ORGAN THING: What is it with all this pretty shiny super-slick art? Abstracting what we can from new shows at Stolen Space and New Art Projects, checking out Free Range and whatever else we can find on a random Thursday night…



What is it with all this pretty art tonight? The first Thursday of July and I have to say, I have a real blackout in the red room type love/hate relationship with East London’s super-slick Stolen Space gallery. I have a love/hate relationship with their extra-super-slicker-than-slick corporate coffee table attitude towards what is essential something that has evolved out of dirty filthy punk rock street art – not that the Stolen Space people give two hoots what I think of course, who the flip am I to come in here and question their atttiude while I such down a free beer?.  I have a love/hate relationship with this place, I do have to admit, even though it once again feels like a branch of Paperchase in here, this is a rather good looking show. This is a pretty show, all bright pretty colours and super-slick lines, not a drip out-of-place, not a hint of danger, and so beautifully hung on those beautiful back room brick walls the Stolen Space people use so well – it really is a beautifully hung show, got to give them that, they always hang it well in here.



Yes, have to admit the Stolen Space summer group show is a rather Beautiful show. a beautifully coordinated show, a very pretty show – pretty colours, bright and shiny, pretty colours.  This is shiny and glossy and bright and polished and slick and pretty pretty pretty, this is a very pretty show indeed.   They may not run the most friendly gallery in the world and their corporate attitude to what is essentially an art form that should be at odds with their strangely unfriendly attitude (especially when it comes to their attitude towards London artists and supporting the wider East London art scene – you can’t leave flyers for a show here!), but this is a decently pretty show.

It may be far too slick and safe in here but it has to be admitted, even if some of the artists featured here have lost some of the cutting edge they once had, this is a beautifully shiny pretty show, and if you don’t give it too much thought then this is probably a slickly impressive show, now let’s get out of here before we overdose on the sugar sweet colour and…



Here’s what Stolen Space  have to say about their very pretty show, (not sure where the drips are?), here’s their show statement….

“Influenced by both Urban Art and Abstract Contemporary, we present works from a group of artists who merge the way between these styles focusing the energy and rawness of classical graffiti with abstract expressionism.  Works feature noticeable spray can strokes, fat cap lines, drips and splatters and all the other elementary components of classic graffiti as well as works with more graphic clean lines of geometric precision. Abstract both in the visual language and approach, ‘Adventures in Modern Abstraction’ showcases a collection of works that embrace a vibrant approach to the outer limits of urban art and graffiti“.   

Featuring work by: Felipe Pantone, Jason Woodside,  Zest, Jeremy Brown,  Clark Goolsby,  Remi Rough,  Mad C, Augustine Kofie,  Florence  Blanchard and Muro.  The show runs at Stolen Space, just around the corner from Whitechapel Gallery at the very end of Brick Lane,  until August 6th.  



Busy night tonight, besides the opening and the super-slick notions of urban-street-whatever-you-want-to-call-it pretty art over at Stolen Space, there’s a group show opening at New Art Projects just by Regents Canal on parallel to Broadway Market the edges of Hackney.   Abstract is the word here as well, modern abstraction is the thing tonight so it seems. Is the idea of “abstract” still a challenge? Are things equally as slick over at Fred Mann’s New Art Projects?  Is any of this really that abstract anyway?  A show called Abstract Remix, a group show, more colourful paintings and patterns (and dare we say things almost verging on textile design?).  Nowhere near as slick as things are over at Stolen Space or course, and not a hint of a spray can or anything that might come anywhere near being considered “urban” or “Street”, it is a little slick in here as well though. Pretty seems to be in for this summer’s gallery group shows,  Things are far more contemporary or maybe “traditional” over at New Art Projects of course, almost a different world yet very much the same as things feel over at Stolen Space this month.  Another summer group show and once again one or two “pretty” pieces  You have work in here from Joachim Grommek, Markus Linnenbrink, Adrian Esparza, Jan van der Ploeg, Markus Weggenmann, Beat Zoderer and Jonathan Parsons, none of it  really feels that readical or dangerous or indeed that exciting or challenging (does it have to be?). Maybe the Jonathan Parsons piece in the middle of the floor? I don’t know? What am I expecting? What do I want? Energy?  Attitude? Danger? This isn’t a bad show, far from it, but is this really all there is? Can we ask if this has anything like the energy of that Interact show that just happened a mere  stonesthrow away from New Art Projects a couple of weeks ago?  


Jonathan Parsons, Abstract Remix @ New Art Projects, July 2017

Do rather like the layers of the Jonathan Parsons piece.  No, this isn’t a bad show, the Marcus Linnenbrink piece on the wall is enjoyable fun (if I have the credits right, no labels in here), Linnenbrink’s rather slick rather pretty epoxy resin on wood creation hanging on the wall looking like it might be ceramic. Oh look, the show  enjoyable enough, there’s one or two pieces here that demand serious attention, there’s some pretty pieces, slick pieces, I don’t know, I really don’t know, I’m not feeling that excited, not feeling that satisfied, not feeling moved or inspired or in need of grabbing hold of you and telling you that you need to go see it – besides a couple of pieces by a couple of artists, I;m not sure that you honestly need to see either of these shows that are opening tonight? Does it feel a little like Paperchase here in New Art Projects as well? What is it with all this “pretty” art tonight?   


Marcus Linnenbrink, Abstract Remix @ New Art Projects, July 2017

The Abstract Remix group show at New Art Projects goes on until August 26th. You find the gallery at 6D Sheep Lane, Hackney, London, E8 4QS.

What else can we find out there in East London on this first Thursday of July?  Gone are the days of the actual First Thursday now of course, but there is always art to be found if you go out and look on any given East London Thursday night. There’s always an opening to be found, always fresh art on the gallery walls, new marks and layers on the walls of the streets, on the vans.  There’s a massive student graduate show called Free Range at Trumans Brewery, acres of art and youthful hope and a coming together of all kinds of universities and art students and colleges and Leeds and Bournemouth and Glasgow and Northampton and flowing wine and excited voices and a whole maze of photography and print making and painting and installation and someone called MJ who’s brave enough to put out his sketch books for people to leaf through.


Free Range, Truman Brewery, July 2017

There’s a show at the always reliable Studio 1.1, a gallery still there with their red door defiantly open on the now horribly designer-label infested Redchurch Street, a show called ‘She Spills Breath Spells’ featuring the paintings of Clare Price and Jacqueline Utley.   There’s the hands of Mick, a new Jimmy C piece painted on some shutters just by the Brick Lane bagel bakery, good to see Jimmy’s Joe’s Kid piece hanging on as well, hanging on even though the cafe the piece was painted on a couple of years ago is no longer Joe’s Kid’s place.  There’s someone fire Breathing outside Monty’s Bar, there a nice bit of Oust goodness in the Star Yard, there something going on at the dreadful Black and White building that we can’t tolorate for more than a couple of minutes before the bulshit drives us out of the place again.

Off to the old Blue Last for a last pint then, wonder who’s playing? Always worth wandering in when the gigs are free, well worth it tonight, Terra Lightfoot, more about her in a bit, she’s kicking up a glorious storm, she not making pretty art, what was it with all the pretty art tonight? Gawd I need to see a painting with a bit of attitude or r enerrgy or danger now, a painting that makes me want to shout about it on these fractured pages, what is it with all this slick coffee table street art? Pretty notions of abstract art will not do  (sw)

Click on an image to enlarge or ot run the Thursday evening slice show


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