What you make of the show that just opened over at the small Hoxton Street shop-shaped gallery on the borders of North and East London then?. The art of the paste-up probably isn’t as new and exciting as the gallery statement would have us believe, well no, of course it isn’t, the art of the paste up has been with us for years and years (and years), not sure about the proclaimed “huge buzz” or the “go to medium” bits either? Hey, you’ve got to hype your next gallery show right? And yes this is a more than decent line up of artists – A.CE, Ben Rider, Donk, Hin, Luap, My Dog Sighs, Pablo Delgado and Shuby – looks interesting enough on paper and surely a gang of paste up artists are going to do something exciting is a gallery environment right? Surely they’ll take some of that street art energy and transplant it? Well no actually, it isn’t exactly feeling like the outside walls of the Lord Napier in here.
What we actually get is some politely framed pieces of graphic art and some rather sanitized bits of “stuff”. Sure, there’s one or two pieces in here that are impressive in their own graphic comic book pop art way, one or two really nice pieces of pop art, but isn’t a paste up as much about the layers, the rips, the energy, the dirt and the chaos, the attitude? Where’s the attitude? If you must put it in a nice clean frame with a nice big price tag on it at least go tear one of your old pieces off a wall, give is those torn edges and paste bubbles, those bits of other marks on it, go stick the whole real deal in a frame, capture the energy, bottle the attitude, give us that “huge buzz” of the street you talk of, get that “thing” in that frame, capture te magic “it”. These pieces have been neutered, they’ve had their balls cut off, all nicely packaged, all clean-cut and carefully framed for a middle class living room or a bankers office, roll up roll up and take your piece of sanitized street art rebellion home and hey my friend who works in commodities says he’s friends with one of Banksy best mates and knows who he is…
Oh look, there’s some decent enough pop art and design in here, some comic book colour, one or two real stand out pieces, and yes, a piece or two that maybe don’t cut “it” in here like they might do on the ourside of an old pub in Hackney Wick or down a side street just off Brick Lane. And no I’m not going to pick out names or favourite pieces or artists here, I have my stand-out pieces, you’ll no doubt have yours – this is about the whole collective thing, the show, the event and the body of art inside the gallery. True there has been some kind of attempt to recreate the street in the gallery front window, it doesn’t quite work in the darkness of evening with all the bright lighting from the gallery behind it, probably does work in the cold light of daytime when the bankers come out to buy their pieces of neatly framed rebellion during their no doubt much longer than an hour dinner hours….
Oh look, there’s some good art in here and I guess Hang Up is, before everything else, a commercial framing business rather than a cutting edge gallery – you have to applaud their constant support of London’s artists, their championing of those out there pasting and spraying and sticking things up, they do it far more than most in terms of picking up on these things, there’s a few others who could do with following the Hang Up example rather then just flying in the next overseas “streetart superstar” – big respected ot the Hang Up gallery team, but this feels like a show that could have been so so much more than it actually is, this feels like a missed oppotunity, this feels like playing it far to safe, this line up of artists could have done so much more in the space. Is it worth going to? Well yes, if conservatively hung paste up street art presented in politely slick frames is your thing, if very bright slick comic book pop art is you thing, if neatly framed grahic urban imagery does it for you then most certainly yes, but don’t be expecting a cutting edge gallery event though, don’t believe the hype, just go enjoy it for what it is (and be thankful there was no David Bowie or Kate Moss or Stormetrooper heads in there), yes it is worth going to, and good on Hang Up for putting it on. the Gallery statement is underneath the next fractured photo, I needed it with a bit more attitude, I wanted it with the balls cut off…. (SW)
The gallery statement: “Well Hung are delighted to announce a group ‘paste up’ exhibition with artists; A.CE, Ben Rider, Donk, Hin, Luap, My Dog Sighs, Pablo Delgado and Shuby.. These highly skilled artists are creating a huge buzz in street art by pasting up their provocative imagery around London. Paste-ups are fast becoming the ‘go to’ medium as a way to communicate in the increasingly transient world of street art. Our artists have a unique approach to popular culture and mass media imagery, which are visually very exciting. Work included in the show features technicolor artworks emblazoned with trademark imagery (of animals, eyes, teddies, bunnies, little people) and bold iconography. Their work is very current and intoxicating, appropriating the language of advertising and pop culture to create thought-provoking, psychedelic visuals and messaging”.
The exhibition runs until 25th November. Well Hung is at 239 Hoxton Street, London, N1 5LG
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