A quick Thursday night walk around the block then, a quick stroll through the pollution and the ever-changing colours of the Hackney Road, past the various buildings closed down by the greed of the gentrifiers and off to an opening night of a gallery or two. Last night was mostly about artists who, on the whole, might just be more at home in their natural environments of the street, tonight some of the current crop of rather active London-based street artists are taking to the confines of gallery walls, freshly evolving artists like Zabou, Skeleton Cardboard, Frankie Strand, This One and such…
The small backroom gallery space of the Parlour Skate Store on the aforementioned Hackney Road is the first destination, Frankie Strand and This One are sharing the space and a collaborative show called The Nature Of It. The two of them have been collaborating and complimenting each other quite a bit recently, painting walls together, Frankie’s bold colour, This One’s black and white graphicness. This show isn’t really a traditional gallery show or in a traditional gallery space, but they are confined and up there on relatively polite white walls, would the formality of it work? Well we know This One’s work translates well, be it on doors, on canvas, on old bike frames, be it big to small, his black and white tattoo-flavoured style has graced a number of formal gallery walls in recent months, tonight he’s making use of used skateboard decks, and of course it works, of course it does.
Frankie Strand we only really know from her big outdoor pieces, her work certainly thrives on the crumbling London walls she’s been enjoying recently, her green and purple lizard creatures, her animal shapes alive within the detritus of the East End streets, her climbing up scaffolding and while it works when you see it high up on a wall or on the opposite canal bank from the one you’re walking on, would it work on a gallery wall? Frankie Strand’s street work doesn’t really do her justice, taken down to gallery scale, corralled in to frames, on to skateboard decks, her illustrations really do come to life, if anything, her almost primitive style is more engaging in here, her energy, her positively-engaging cartoon colour, her graphic comic book flavoured illustrations really do work in here. And of course the two artists work well together, the styles bounce off each other in here just as they do on the streets. The lines, the sense of line, the natural understanding of each others style, they really so seem to naturally work together, natural really is the word here. This isn’t really a formal gallery show, we’re in a slightly messy back room of a fancy skateboard shop, the two of them do work as well together here on white walls as they do on the streets, we knew This One would work in the small back room, we’re pleased to report Frankie’s style really comes to life on a small-scale on a born again skateboard deck or a piece of paper torn from a sketch book and pinned to a gallery wall in a frame… The nature of it all indeed. A show and a couple of artists well worth your time
Around the corner, and up the Kingsland Road, off to Haggerston and back to the canal and what we’re told is a three-month pop up art space rather awkwardly called the Ollystudio Pop-up Artspace
Always good to see a new art space opening in East London, we’re losing most of them, this one is here for the summer months apparently, good to see. Tonight there’s a four person show called Convergence opening, a rather inspired show, some healthy cross-pollination, four rather busy London artists, four styles that compliment each other well in here and a rather decent hang (the hang is always important). Plenty of space for the art to breath, space for the pieces to talk to the audience without ever shouting over one another. Convergence features the street art boldness of Zaboo, the currently spot-on social comment of Skeleton Cardboard, the considered flirting of the always impressive Wildcat Will and the primitive styling of the rather confident Benjamin Murphy.
We’ve seen most of these Skeleton Cardboard pieces at recent Cultivate shows, his fresh pieces make us smile and if you haven’t seen any of this work in the flesh then do get along, triangles indeed! Mr Cardboard has his finger on the social media pulse at the moment, his work is there to “like”, to “repost” and “tag”, his self-assessing wordery, his skeleton line drawings, Skeleton Cardboard has a tongue-in-cheek finger on the pulse, his wit is about never (not) trying to hard and the cash value is of course questionable – no cash value? Pricelessly good actually, Skeleton Cardboard, as I believe they say in the London street art circles, is currently “smashing it”.
The pieces that really do jump off the wall here at this rather busy Convergence opening are the Wildcat Will collage and varnish pieces, well no, they don’t jump so much as ease their way over and ask you to f**k art and instead dance, his 1920’s butterfly flappers revolving at 78rpm, beguiling, flirting, Wildcat’s art is flirting with us, at time zero f’s have been given, but this his 20’s flappers seemingly really do give a flip as they steal the rather fine show is such a stylish way…. (sw) .
The Nature Of It featuring Frankie Strand and This One is at the Parlour Skate Store, 59 Hackney Road, London, E2 7NX until Wednesday May 18th
Convergence is on at Ollystudio pop-up artspace right now, find right by the canal on the bridge at Bridge House 283 Kingsland Road, Haggerston, E2 8AS (on for about a month we do believe
Click on image to view the badly taken photos or to run the fractured slideshow and a get a bit of a feel for what happened on the walls last night….