Apparently it isn’t “cool” to be seen to be enthusiastically writing about art, apparently the done thing is to not admit to any kind of notion of excitement or interest, seems art should be aloof and elite, talked of only in whispers, only in the right places and only by the right people, art should be something out of reach and not for just anyone. It would seem that some of the recent coverage on these pages is not appreciated by some of the self-appointed curators, indeed, it has been made very clear that further coverage would not be welcome.
Art excites us, exploring art is exciting, poking under the hood and seeing what we can find excites us, couldn’t care less about what you deem “cool” and if you don’t want people interacting with the artists you show then don’t put on the shows (maybe this is why so many London galleries don’t like to have signs and appear to not want people to come in?). On with the words and the exploring and the photos and, when we find something exciting, on with the enthusiasm, heaven forbid, the great unwashed might come in….
Although sometimes things can be a little flat and it really is hard to find enthusiasm…
April First Thursday then? The once vital East London event is a sad shadow of an exciting former self now, London is changing, still lots going on, the semi-formal coming together that has been First Thursday for the last few years kind of feels like a thing of the past now though. The demise of Vyner Street, the gentrification of Redchurch street, that and the apathy of the establishment galleries coupled with the taking it all for granted attitude of the Whitechapel organisers really means there is very little difference between a first Thursday and any other Thursday evening in East London now – such a shame, we had it rather good back there for a while. Still, first Thursday of April, the Easter break is upon us, spring is in the air, the days are getting longer, there’s a buzz on the streets tonight, let’s get out there and see what we can find…
Load up with a bag of painted-on bits of recycled wood, unwanted framed shop-bought generic prints found in skips and such, time for more #365ArtDrops, off we go. Where shall we start tonight? Social media isn’t offering much, neither is the official First Thursday website, the Cosmo Sarson show at Pure Evil looks promising, looks like as good a starting point as anywhere, off to Leonard Street it is.
The Pure Evil Superstore is heaving, so is the pavement outside, thankfully the standing outside weather is starting to kick in now, been a rather long dark winter, bring in the sun. Bit of a fight to get in to the Sarson show and seeing the art is almost impossible, we’ll come back later when the complimentary drink has run out and the crowds have thinned out, what we can see looks impressive, especially some of the smaller not so prominent black and white work..
A couple of drops (or careful hangs, dropping things is just careless) on Rivington street and we’re off to see if there is any sign of art life on Redchurch Street. Oh look, the big Londonewcastle space is open, let’s go see, it is worth just getting out and wandering around, you’re never far from a gallery in East London on any given Thursday night. Seems there’s a rather expansive photography show called Fifty Chefs opening at Londonewcasle tonight
– When Katie Wilson started photographing London chefs 10 years ago, she was immediately drawn to their arms. “They had these amazing cuts and burns and it sparked my interest,” she says. “What were they getting up to in the kitchen?” Wilson’s resulting photographs of chefs and their arms feature in an exhibition called Fifty Chefs – the Hands that Feed London at the Londonewcastle gallery in Shoreditch –
Fifty Chefs is a simple show, large monochrome photographs of (mostly male) chefs, striking portraits (there’s a lot of beards on show), next to photos of their bare arms and hands – the photos are in pairs, heads and scarred hands. An interesting show, big crowd in here as well, but we’re in need of some exciting painting, on we go.
Even the usually reliable Studio 1.0 isn’t open, that’s disappointing, can’t remember the last time those red doors were locked on a First Thursday? Actually, nothing besides the Fifty Chefs show happening on Redchurch street, this is disappointing. Somebody says something about street art, a print sale and DJs in Boxpark, the prospect of the designer label shopping mall is just not what we want tonight either.
Wait a minute, is something happening down there? A basement hairdressers and an intimate show of paintings from Melody Park dotted around while the business of hairdressing goes on and the socializing takes up all the viewing space, interesting idea bu the combination of hairdressers and friends of the artist hanging out drinking makes it impossible to view anything…. On to Espacio gallery then, see what the latest show from the Sweet Art collective has to offer. Sweat Art have taken over Espacio for another of their open call group shows, this time a show called ” Y Not?”, a show that “will explore the theme of femininity and feminine identity”, something to do with International Women’s Day so they say (wasn’t that back at the start of March, aren’t they almost a month late?). There’s a lot of people in here, and one or two potentially interesting pieces on the busy walls…
Back to the Pure Evil Gallery then, nice Sweet Toof on the shutters over there, back to Pure Evil via the live music at the Old Blue Last. The good people of Chaos Theory are the promoting the bands and the event tonight. Liverpool band Pocket Apocalypse are first up of three with their hard-edged melody and their post-rock flavours. there’s a lot of energy up there in the stage, and a more than healthy crowd in time to see the first of three bands. A more than healthy mix of indie flavoured post rock adventure laced with a riff or two that almost gets a little metal-edged. A touch of Oceansize flow, an And So I Watch You From Afar feel, and appreciation of the notion of less so often being more as they deliver some light and shade in those expansive instrumental passages, an impressively energetic start to the night…. They’re promoting a new album and while they get on with flogging a copy or two to an audience that has really warmed to them, we’ll nip over the road and see if the crush has eased over at the Pure Evil Superstore and that Cosmo Sarson exhibition .
Easily the best gallery event we’ve been to this First Thursday night, well as disappointing as it is to say it, we’ve not seem much to really challenge it this evening. The (street) artist is probably best known, in more recent times, for his giant break-dancing Jesus – this is the first solo since he hit the headlines with that 28ft high Jesus on that Bristol Wall hit the headlines, a solo show that revisits his “now iconic image in a series of works that seamlessly transpose his street-art style into a traditional gallery setting”..
The born and bred Londoner has background in street art (as well as the 80’s/90’s hip hp break-dancing scene), street art background but there’s a more traditional artistic discipline here, an almost traditional painterly approach. Cosmo Sarson‘s early work explored “themes around Hip Hop culture, creating almost trompe l’oeil images of break-dancers, skateboarders and bmx riders”, this is exploring a lot lot more now though. Apparently he gave up art and hung up his brushes in 1997. Well he says he hung his brushes up and walked away, no one really walks away from art, you can’t walk away, it will always be there, in your blood, pecking at you, more of a need than an addiction, Cosmos is well and truly back, his giant Jesus wall pieces demanding attention down in Bristol, his work is now celebrated far and wide and this is a solo show from an artist really putting down his mark. There’s more break-dancing Jesus pieces here on the walls, the details on the less demanding pieces, the pieces that you maybe don’t notice at first, are the ones that really stand out, this is a show to really explore. There’s a depth to the work on he walls in here, a fine artist at work, he’s as much about Caravaggio as he is about urban culture, a restrained understated coming together of street art style, Catholic imagery, Greek mythology, of gods and monsters, of rich maroon, burnt orange, striking reds, classical motifs, black and white details, dark corners, as much about the style of the Old Masters as i is about hip hop attitudes, Sarson is a real painter, a proper painter, maybe even a timeless painter, this is a proper painting show, our Thursday has been rescued, we needed some painting tonight, our need was fed….
Back to the Old Blue Last, Lost in The Riots are on stage by the time we get back, the crowd, already warmed up by the dynamics of Pocket Apocalypse, are lapping up more of the almost the same. Lost in the Riots are a four-piece instrumental rock outfit “fighting their way out of Watford”, they’ve been slowly building themselves a healthy reputation for two or three years now, Most post-rock flavored instrumental music sounds and feels like they need to stop stroking their chins and go and find themselves a personality to front he band and give them a finer print or two, Lost in the Riots pure enjoyment is carrying them through tonight though, their mathematical interchanges come with a smile, a tight band, a serious band who clearly love what they’re doing without taking themselves too seriously – they’re doing all the things an instrumental maths-rock band are required to do, their stops and starts are in all the correct places, the formulas are all there, but there is and atmospheric drive, a melodic warmth, and they don’t mind a bit progressive powerful riffing that isn’t tom many miles away from Iron Maiden in full flow. Most instrumental math-rock bands are far too uptight for their own good, most of them appear almost scared to slip up, Lost in The Riots play with a freedom, a smile, they’re band enjoying their time, a band who look to be genuinely excited to be on a stage and ready to head off on tour with tonight’s headliners Polymath, Lost in The Riots are a joy tonight…
Polymath are from Brighton, they’re regulars on the Other Rock Show, they’re a mathy band with a hint of a fingerprint of their own, their instrumental pieces gallop, all angular arms and upright musicians feeding off each others dynamic. Like Lost in The Riots before them, Polymath have a personality, bits of Battles, touches of King Crimson (in a very modern sense), pieces that bite at yer ankles, a bass held high, a powerful presence, and vitally, something of their own to add to the instrumental math rock scene. There’s some seriously tight impressive musicianship here, they feed each other in an accomplished way, the signals, the nods that almost seem to not need to happen, another band playing with feel, with attitude, with warmth – oh snd they have a new album as well. Three rather impressive math rock bands and a fine bill put together by the hard working Chaos Theory crew, wasn’t really expecting to enjoy it so much, math rock, on the whole, has become rather tedious, this was good….
East London, April First Thursday then, one rather decent art show, one rather decent gig and some interesting layers on the walls and in the tunnels (SW)
Click on an image to enlarge or run the slide show….