ORGAN: End of the Line? Neverended, an urban art show in a big white-walled gallery, maybe not quite the pulse, but a good show all same…

endoftheline.artEnd of the Line? The line surely never ends? Neverended then, another ambitious art show in East London, a show that, somewhere in-between the galleries happening under railway bridges and things going off and things once more last weekend needed some attention. An ambitious show that demanded a moment to be found and a visit undertaken between the squalor alive and the filth abound in every corner, a show that required a look or two.

A new End of The Line show at the always impressive Londonewcastle art space, the big space on Redchurch street that so often excites. Things were busy last weekend, what with the already mentioned railway bridge and the #43 thing, that and the Residents landing smack bang in the middle of Hackney with the giant eyeballs, the spiders and the crayfish, that and and the thorns they sometimes have. Neverended is the name of the ten-year retrospective from the End of The Line team, an art show in a gallery celebration the art of the street…

NeverEnded @Londonewcastle, Feb 2016

NeverEnded @Londonewcastle, Feb 2016

EndoftheLine Productions is proud to present Neverended, a retrospective exhibition showcasing a curated collection of over 200 pieces by internationally acclaimed graffiti and street artists. For two weeks in February, EndoftheLine will take over the entire LondoNewcastle Project Space on Redchurch Street in the heart of Shoreditch providing a snapshot of the last ten years of East London’s graffiti, street art and hip hop community

Walking in late on a Friday afternoon and hearing that dreadful Reef song playing – you know the one, yeah that one! Reef!? Hardly the sound of the cutting edge “hip hop community” in full effect is it? Reef! Get some Overlord X on or get some 11:59 spinning in the place, we don’t want to be greeted by bleedin’ 90’s Brit-rock and the godawful sound of Reef for flip sake! What next? Oasis at a skateboard festival!? These details do matter, they set the mood, the agenda. On with the words, enough of the Reef-rage. 

NeverEnded @Londonewcastle, Feb 2016

NeverEnded @Londonewcastle, Feb 2016

Walking in late on a Friday afternoon, the gallery looks good from the start. Well it looks good before you actually get in, the End of The Line crew have attacked the front of the building in fitting style, well no, not so much attacked as beautifully painted, considered use of colour, texture and graff text, looks promising, is that the hand of Andrea Riot on the front wall?  Ben “David-Cameron-is-a-cool-kind-of-guy” Eine has painted more of his slick shop-front sign-writing typography down the side of the building, he’s nothing to do with this show though. Did you catch Mr Eine on the BBC the other day? Oh dear! Did he really say Cameron was a cool kind of guy live on the radio as he wrote off graffiti and nothing but destruction and then told people not to become artists because there’s no money to be made out of it? Is that really what…. nah, surely he was taking the p? Getting distracted, let’s get in and explore the show, enough of the bad music, soul-sucking sign-writers and who’s painting what on the outside of he building, this is about what’s on the inside..

NeverEnded @Londonewcastle, Feb 2016

NeverEnded @Londonewcastle, Feb 2016

There’s some impressively good art in here under the quiet lighting, the hang is a busy one, the individual pieces are fighting for the viewers attention  but the paintings can really breath in here. Things looks good in the big white-walled space. Kind of expected a few bigger pieces and more expansive use of this glorious gallery walls, and that dark lighting is kind of hiding things just a little, subtle and restrained, conservative (with a small c), and it does all seem just a little polite when surely with a show of this nature the gallery should be alive with explosions of attitude, energy, colour and more?  There are one or two big pieces and an attempt to spill on the floor here and there, a bench tagged, wings to worry about walking on but  what we mostly have in here is a busy collection of smaller pieces of slick graff-flavoured artwork.  Lots of smaller pieces, busy pieces, busy walls, a busy hang, slick canvas, polite frames, “proper art”,  notions of the street clearly left outside.  Boundaries defined, gallery rules obeyed rather than questioned, and yes you could argue why not? Why should the gallery be challenged? This is after all a white-walled art gallery, why should these artists and their work be treated any differently than any other collection of contemporary artists in a plush gallery?. Here’s a slice of the press release…

Curated by EndoftheLine, London’s link between mainstream and the underground, this momentous show represents a decade of Artwork from some of London and the World’s most important and influential urban artists including; Will Barras, Mr Jago, Bom.k, Sowat, Faile, Tizer, Xenz, Sheone, Dan Chase, Ed Hicks, Rabodiga, 45RPM, Candy Lo, Imaone, Suiko, Zoer, Does LoveLetters, Odisy, Dr Zadok, Dotmasters, Steff Plaetz and Jim Vision.

Neverended invites visitors to immerse themselves in a world of graffiti, street art, music and film with a series of pop up events held in the exhibition space; including live art, life drawing classes, music showcases by the 5th Element Agency & Lyrix Organix, pop up feasts and live talks. Jim Vision, Creative Director of EndoftheLine and one of London’s internationally acclaimed graffiti artists said Neverended; A Retrospective is a culmination of ten years riding on the wave of gentrification, constantly seeking out new places, spaces and walls to challenge accepted norms of traditional art making.

NeverEnded @Londonewcastle, Feb 2016

NeverEnded @Londonewcastle, Feb 2016

“This retrospective takes the pulse of East London’s urban art scene in 2016,” Jim said. “This is our personal collection which reveals the transformation of the streets of Shoreditch and the tensions between urban development and artistic freedom, and represents what will be lost when everything is glass towers.”

Well yes, we are in a big white-walled gallery space and yes this is very slick, is it too slick? A little too polite? is it a touch too conservative?  Enough of the slightly tongue-in-cheek Reef digs, the music was only to be heard by the door, it didn’t infringe on the body of the exhibition.  It looks, feels and sounds like a polite high-end gallery show once you get inside and past the shop and the music, once you get into the body of the event .

NeverEnded @Londonewcastle, Feb 2016

NeverEnded @Londonewcastle, Feb 2016

This is a serious gallery exhibition, a show and a collection of artists that deserve some respect, an impressive show that deserves a positive critical response.  Yes. the show is very slick, yes the art is (mostly) very very slick, and yes, could be argued that the art is all rather tamed for the gallery and the frames and the subtle lighting, art tamed and polite rather than feral and loose on the streets.  Surely the vital thing with graffiti and street art is that it exists out there on top of the layers left by previous pieces of spray-painted creative statement? That it exists and shouts alongside the bits of torn-down paste-up, in there with the shapes and the marks of the graff, on there with all the dirt and street furniture and the gig flyposters and the road-signs, there with the faded advertising and the broken buildings, surely dirty walls is where street art comes to life? In here it feels polite, in here in a contemporary art setting, I want a bit more of the street dirt in here, I don’t want it this “nice” and “polite” and “comfortable”, I want the art to come in there off the street to really challenge the gallery rather than just conforming to the rules of the gallery. Surely this art should be misbehaving, challenging, surely this art should not be just politely obeying?.

NeverEnded @Londonewcastle, Feb 2016

NeverEnded @Londonewcastle, Feb 2016

And what about the art? Not going to start picking out names and such, essentially we’re dealing with a body of work, a ten-year snap shot, a united collection, a feeling, a retrospective, a celebration.  The individual pieces, on the whole, well on the whole the individual pieces feel as slick as the show itself, taken as one-off pieces and judged purely as one-off pieces then there’s some very impressive work in here, but this is a show, a collection, a “pulse” taken, a “statement”.

Accomplished graphic pieces, graphic novel feelings, some beautiful work in here, not a line out-of-place or a hint of paint out of control, no real dripping and running in here, if there is a drip or a run then that drip is never out of control. clever pop art, skillful, stylish, stylish skillful accomplished graphic urban art, slick accomplished graphic urban pop art. Skilled, precise, alive and if you like your urban arr all slick and focused and detailed an “clever” then yes, I guess this is a very very impressive collection of pieces.

Not sure about the press-released claim that “this retrospective takes the pulse of East London’s urban art scene in 2016”? Surely you’re more likely to find that pulse fighting for life out there in the gentrification, the uncaring property developer greed and cultural vandalism of Norton Felgate, out there fighting for space on the walls of Clare Street or the back yards off Brick Lane?Surely the pulse is on the streets that surround this Londonewcastle space that houses this very slick show?  Surely he pulse is out there and not in here, surely the ever-changing pulse is out there on Sclater Street, out there along Bacon Street with the owls, with the East London portraits and the London Police stickers, with the sweet toof smiles, the gold pegs and the monkeyheads, with the stick figures of Stik that come with so much hope, surely the pulse is out there on the walls of Hackney Wick where the skeletons ask questions, surely the pulse is down by the canal with Roa’s animal life or the latest Bay Watch tag, on the side of the white vans of Whitechapel market or that sticker on the bus stop you stoped to take a photo of and then post on social media? And yes, surely that pulse is found when most of these artists sharing the space in this gallery show are actually out on the street? Surely that’s where the pulse is? . Not sure if the pulse can ever be found here in a tamed environment like this, can the pulse ever be found on the white walls and the confines of an expansive contemporary art space, especially in a show  where the rules of the gallery are on the whole politely adhered to rather than confronted or challenged?  .

NeverEnded @Londonewcastle, Feb 2016

NeverEnded @Londonewcastle, Feb 2016

What we do have here is another impressive “urban art” gallery show, a show alive with what’s you’d call modern pop art, a show alive with the marks and shapes of street art and graffiti, and if there is a positive pulse in here then it is a positively slick urban pop art pulse and, like recent urban street-art flavoured pop art shows inside East London places such as Stolen Space, Lollipop or Pure Evil Gallery, like other recent urban art shows, this is a rather positive gallery event with some impressively good art hanging on the walls, art and artists there there to be enjoyed and indeed celebrated, art deserving of space in here, this is, after all a good show..

An impressive show then, the Reef incident apart, we rather enjoyed escaping the street and exploring it for a while, we’ll probably go back again for some more before it does end. Do go catch Neverended before it actually ends, it is a show worthy of your time, you have until the end of February, not the pulse but it is a rather good show… (sw)

Neverended runs from Thursday 11th Feb until Sunday 28th February 2016, open Tuesday – Sunday 11 – 8pm. .The  Londonewcastle space is on Redchurch Street, Shoreditch, East London.

Web: www.endoftheline.co www.jimvision.co.uk / Facebook event page

 click in an image enlarge an image or run the slide show.   .

 

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