Frieze week then, Frieze and all the other fairs, Frieze and all the other fairs and the establishment galleries trying to catch the eye of whoever happens to be in town, the establishment galleries, the wannabe establishment galleries, the one or two mavericks that still have a place to call home. Don’t really know where Stolen Space fits in the great scheme of things, it isn’t the most friendly of places, engagement is not a word that comes to mind, do like the space though, those almost perfect back room walls, just right for the for the so called “urban art” then tend to show, and most of their shows, as conservative as they tends to be, are rather good/ We’ve been to some excellent shows in that Whitechapel space, that brilliant Seen and Risk show, Assemblage, those Dan Witz mosh pit paintings, Roa back when he was really on a roll, Sandra Chevrier‘s impressive solo show last year, actually when you look back Stolen Space are maybe not quite so conservative as the front room full of slicker than slick coffee table street art books tend to make you think they are. And so Frieze is upon us and Stolen Space are bringing out a big gun, do like Shepard Fairey, don’t always like slick graphic art but Fairey has a beautiful sense of colour, a fine feel for a balanced piece of art that has something to say, there”s still a hint of punk rock about him.
HERE;S WHAT STOLEN SPACE HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THE EXHIBITION Propagandist, arch manipulator, inciter, provocateur, these are all words used to describe the artist Shepard Fairey, the man many hail as the originator of the modern urban art scene and an undeniable phenomenon. It began with an absurd sticker illustration of the wrestler André The Giant, which then evolved into an exploration of control, questioning control, and questioning the giant monolithic forces that we are all subjected to, confronting these giant issues with his work, revealing the duality to the name. The title ‘Facing the Giant’ references the giant of Fairey’s prolifically disseminated Obey Giant art campaign, but more enduringly, the giant issues and forces he confronts through his art
Coming from a punk rock, skateboarding, and rebellious subcultures, he started off doing work in the street without permission. It was in 2008 that Shepard Fairey became a worldwide household name when he created, the renowned Obama Hope poster in red and blue colours. Since then, Fairey’s work has continued to reach the masses, inspiring the public on a global scale. Fairey’s mega sphere installation under the Eiffel Tower, entitled ‘Earth Crisis’, brought attention to the climate and sustainability debate. His work continues to address current topics of discussion across his worldwide solo exhibitions and museum shows, from Los Angeles to Paris, London, Seoul, New York, Munich and many more.
His work, a mixture of parody and protest, serves to subvert the very medium to which it attaches itself. Plastered posters adorn advertising billboards that in his own words ‘market nothingness’ while large scale posters with the simple one word message ‘obey’ stir the bewildered masses. Dissent is at the root of what he does, and it continues to be an important part of his work, pushing back against dominant systems that allow and perpetuate injustice requires dissent.
His unique use of stencils, collage, photography and painting have led to collaborations with, among others, DJ Shadow, Interpol, Smashing Pumpkins, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, the Misfits, a limited edition 12-inch featuring Chuck D, and the poster art for the Johnny Cash biopic, ‘Walk the Line’. Other collaborations include his work with Debbie Harry and Chris Stein for the Blondie ‘Pollinator’ album art, a collaborative print with Joan Jett, ‘Joan Jett The Runaway’, and the album art for Tom Petty’s ‘An American Treasure’ 2018 compilation album.
Shepard Fairey is known for his extensive and consistent production of fine art screenprints that began his career and he has continued to create provocative and accessible works with his 18 x 24-inch screen prints. For this survey of the last three decades, the selected 30 artworks will be shown as 30 x 41-inch hand painted multiples (HPMs) which are prints on unique collaged backgrounds with additional stencilling and embellishments. Facing the Giant: 3 Decades of Dissent will be the first time that many of these images are available in mediums other than the original 18 x 24-inch screen print editions that have long been unavailable on the primary market.
‘Facing the Giant’ is a curated series of images chosen for their importance aesthetically and conceptually, and for addressing critical topics and themes frequently recurring throughout Fairey’s career. “This show is a reflection, not a retrospective, because I’m still very actively creating new art, but I like the idea of highlighting both the continuity and evolution of my art and concepts over 30 years.” – Shepard Fairey, 2019