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Captain Kris

Art, Art, Articles, Community, Oneness

Doing Lines: Hyper Collaborative Art Madness

November 7, 2015

Doing Lines, BSMT Space‘s third and final Street Art Exhibition of 2015 opened last night in Dalston.  The brain child of Captain Kris, Tony Boy Drawings, The Real Dill, and Obit, Doing Lines promised to be “hyper collaborative art madness” and “an immersive experience,” according to Captain Kris.  The show delivered on the promise.

"Doing Lines" at BSMT Space. Photo by Tania D Campbell

“Doing Lines” at BSMT Space. Art © by Doing Lines. Photo by Tania D Campbell

 

Stepping into the space, one is surrounded on all sides by black and white illustration of the character based genre. The individual illustration style of each artist is present but they merge and interact in ways that create vignettes in true improv fashion.

 

From different vignettes, character by Captain Kris (Left) and Tony Boy Drawings (Right). Art © by Doing Lines Photo by Tania D Campbell.

 

An overarching story begins to unfold as one examines details of a sea scape, a naughty sexual encounter on one wall, a haven to intoxicants in another corner and a foodscape on yet another wall which provides for the inevitable munchies that will result from a wild night of partying.

 

An intoxicating corner. Art © by Doing Lines. Photo by Tania D. Campbell

 

The visitor feels as though they have walked into a larger than life comic book where a party is underway.  The text is written in reverse, telling us that we have left our everyday existence and entered inside the world of the story that the images are creating.

The party continues with DJ Seeds on the decks spinning wicked tunes and white balloons covering the floor.

 

Entering the space, reversed text makes the visitor feel they are "inside" the story that the illustration is telling storylines

Entering the space, reversed text makes the visitor feel they are “inside” the story that the illustration is telling.  Art © by Doing Lines. Photo by Tania D Campbell.

 

It is clear that the artists, Captain Kris, Tony Boy Drawings, The Real Dill and Obit have created a fun time for the visitor, improvising the piece, despite the three days and nights of hard work it took to create. The improv does not end with the artists. We are meant to become a part of the story.  The white balloons lay strewn upon the floor and markers lay at the ready for visitors to draw themselves into the story as merry party goers.

 

A visitor "draws himself" into the story. Photo by Tania D Campbell.

A visitor, artist 616, “draws himself” into the story. Photo by Tania D Campbell.

 

And it isn’t just by drawing that one can enter the storyline. A voluptuous naked woman is positioned in a waiting pose for a sexual encounter.  She is drawn exactly at the height where a gallery visitor might be inclined to position himself or herself to enjoy the encounter – were the illustration a real woman, or were the visitor made from illustrator’s ink and able to step out of this world and onto the wall.

 

AVolutuous woman by Obit with face and stabby creature by the Real Dill. Photo by Tania D Campbell

Voluptuous woman by Obit with face and stabby creature by The Real Dill. Art © by Doing Lines. Photo by Tania D Campbell

 

Masters of mixing performance art with street art, the energy of the piece continued at the opening with live drawing.

 

Live drawing. Photo by Tania D Campbell

Live drawing. Photo by Tania D Campbell

 

All in all, an evening of community and mirth was created between artists, and gallery visitors.  A small number of works are available for sale, including a limited edition signed print, and several canvases which had been carefully hung and concealed on the blank walls at the start of the jam.  Keeping to the promise to be different from the usual “paintings on walls” shows, the canvases for sale from Doing Lines were completed as a consequence of being part of the blank wall for the improvisational 3-day illustration jam.

 

A massive amount of fun, the immersive party atmosphere continues at BSMT Space with the Doing Lines walls on exhibition through 14 November.

 

 

Art, Art, Articles, Community, Oneness

“Underhand” – Global Community Through Street Art

September 17, 2015

BSMT Space launched a new gallery in Dalston this month, with Underhand, a Street Art exhibition, curated by Greg Key, and drawing from the global community of Street Art.  Artists from Los Angeles, New York, London, Chile, Greece, Norway, France, Poland and the UK are among those represented in the show.

 

Flyer courtesy of BSMT Space, Art and design by The Real Dill

Flyer courtesy of BSMT Space, Art and design by The Real Dill

The Community of Street Art

Street Art, a particular passion of BSMT Space, is very much a global community.  Although associated with vandalism and the gang violence of a few American cities, in the minds of many, the Street Artists represented at BSMT Space are a thoughtful, articulate, sensitive and creative group of individuals.

Academics and lawmakers continue to debate whether Street Art is to be viewed as a crime, or as an art form.  In London, we understand that many legal walls and tunnels exist for the practice of Street Art and graffiti letter writing and so, this magazine leaves aside the legal debate and does not condone or promote illegal activity.  Where illegal painting does occur, (in the absence of any other additional crime), it seems that the marking of a wall entails damage to property, rather than assault to individuals, and so perhaps the punishment might be best aligned with other forms of property damage.

With motives and messages as diverse as the number of individuals, all share a common drive to exercise freedom of thought and freedom of expression at a time when these very freedoms are at risk.  Some may paint illegally; many paint only legal walls  – but all seem to attract the label of “outsider” artists who view the street as a place to reclaim and remake the city, community and society.

Street Art often takes as it’s subject the poor, the homeless, and the marginalised, and reclaims and proclaims the difficult aspects of life that consumer culture represses with a plethora of glossy images of perfection. Street Art often expresses uncomfortable truths.  Within this urban artists’ salon (the street), art works both eschew and comment upon the hierarchical structures of power politics in modern society, including those that exist within the art world, itself.

As outsiders to the mainstream art world, a sense of community and mutual support appears to be a central value of most Street Artists one meets.  Arrive in most towns wanting to paint or paste-up works and the Street Art community will help newcomers find safe and legal spaces for expression.  Far from a closed and self-serving network, Street Artists are often charitable and many walk the talk of local community activism, donating their time and their art to community projects.

As a repository for both our spiritual and shadow selves, Street Art offers a beacon to help us return wholeness to the psyche of the urban communities of mankind.

 

Monsù Plin

The first piece to sell at the opening night was “Self Portrait,” by Los Angeles based artist Monsù Plin.

"Self Portrait" by Monsù Plin; Photo by Tania Campbell

“Self Portrait” by Monsù Plin; Photo by Tania Campbell

 

Similar in style to the characters painted by Plin on the streets, the piece draws upon a global art history with hints of expressionism, cubism and the indigenous and folk art of Central and South America.

The piece depicts three states of being, leaving the viewer to question if this is three perspectives of the same object or whether it represents three emotional states in a given space and time, or indeed, whether this is a reference to the indigenous view of time as circular, where each episode of life is a repetition of a former moment and a precursor of the future.

Like Plin’s street work, the piece strips away the artifice of ego, leaving the viewer facing the primal essence within us all.  The powerful figure conjures the notion of the spirit totem which protects the keeper from evil and evokes the concept of the community Shaman who exists at once, in all times, states of consciousness and places.

With this piece, the exhibition summons and includes both threatened indigenous communities and mankind’s ancestors and future generations.

 

616

Like that of Monsù Plin, the work of UK artist, 616, evokes tribal and indigenous memory from the collective unconscious.

 

"Just sometimes you have to paint inside the box" © by 616. Photo by Tania D Campbell

“Just sometimes you have to paint inside the box” © by 616. Photo by Tania D Campbell

 

Repetition of line hypnotizes the viewer and leaves one unable to discern the origins of the patterns from any particular culture.  The art suggests African, Polynesian, South American and Aboriginal tribal markings and speaks to the commonality of symbolic language found around the globe.

 

"Where's Your F**cking Tool" © by 616. Photo by Tania D Campbell

“Where’s Your F**cking Tool” © by 616. Photo by Tania D Campbell

 

With a subtle witticism characteristic of the works of 616, the painting on handsaw reminds us that for all our technical advancement and urban amenities, we are all still essentially cave dwellers who have evolved little from our leap of advancement: the hand tool.

The unspecified origin of the markings coupled with the reminder of our origins confirms our membership in a single tribe: Mankind.

 

Pyramid Oracle

In his own 3-faced piece, spirituality and transformation are central themes of the art of New York based artist, Pyramid Oracle.  “Evocations Revolve” infuses the show with an otherworldly spirit that is characteristic of  the artist’s street pieces.

 

"Evocations Revolve" © by Pyramid Oracle, photo by Tania D Campbell

“Evocations Revolve” © by Pyramid Oracle, photo by Tania D Campbell

 

The surrealism of the piece seems to call forth a dream from the collective unconsciousness which binds all of humanity in a community of image and myth.   Like Pyramid Oracle’s street pieces, “Evocations Revolve” highlights our struggle to maintain the veneer of an unchanging yet false story of the meaning of “reality”.

The man’s face is weathered, wild and weary, and one face melts into the next. Two faces gaze directly at the viewer, while the central one gazes heavenward, drawing our attention to the unseen. It is this unseen essence that links each to the community of souls.  And, it is this, which lies just beyond our cognition, which seems to infuse light into Pyramid Oracle’s weathered faces, filling them with their profound beauty.

As in many of his works, Pyramid Oracle celebrates the sacred in what we have otherwise discarded – the elderly and the poor.  In seeing them thus restored, the viewer participates in welcoming the marginalised back into “community.”

 

Captain Kris, SpZero76 and The Real Dill

The theme of myth, legend and collective need for meaning is echoed by artists like Captain Kris, SpZero76, and the Real Dill whose character based artwork takes us into the world of storytelling.

 

image

Top: “Flailing Limbs” © Captain Kris Bottom: (Left) “Painting the Town” © by SpZero76, (Right) “Untitled” by The Real Dill Photo by Tania D Campbell

 

The style, associated with comics, ‘zines and graphic novels throughout the world, expresses the need for myth and joins a tradition dating to ancient times where symbolic language and image helped define ourselves, our gods, heroes, and communities, through storytelling.

It is through our stories that mankind has handed down our histories and linked successive generations to their ancestors.

 

Saki and Bitches

Like ‘zines, which are sometimes sexually explicit and associated with bawdy humour, Saki and Bitches presents voluptuous and sensuous women in poses and situations one might associate with the male gaze and erotica. Rather than objectify these women, the viewer is challenged to integrate the image of raw feminine sexuality.

 

Art © by Saki and Bitches, Photo by Tania D Campbell

“Erika” © by Saki and Bitches, Photo by Tania D Campbell

 

In a similar way to Captain Kris, SpZero76 and the Real Dill, these works – whether on the street or inside the cover of ‘zines – reclaim the repressed shadow side of our collective unconsciousness as a part of our heroic visions of ourselves.

As a community of mankind, we are made whole by being able to witness these projections of our baser instincts and to accept them as part of ourselves.

 

Skeleton Cardboard

With a stylistic nod to late New York Street Artist, Basquiat, Skeleton Cardboard’s style of paint and drawing on reclaimed and found objects adds a further international flavour to the show.

 

"No photos on the dance floor Plz" © by Skeleton Cardboard. Photo by Tania D Campbell

“No photos on the dance floor Plz” © by Skeleton Cardboard. Photo by Tania D Campbell

 

Like Basquiat, Skeleton Cardboard uses social commentary as a springboard to deeper truths about the individual in society through dichotomies such as wealth versus poverty, connection versus disconnection, and self awareness versus self image. Skeleton Cardboard’s art challenges and dismantles our assumptions of the good life. His merry skeletons seem blissfully unaware that they are dead, just as a culture of media munching, socially networked individuals have forgotten how to think independently and to connect to one another.

 

"No wifi, Can't breathe" © by Skeleton Cardboard. photo by Tania D Campbell

“No wifi, Can’t breathe” © by Skeleton Cardboard. Photo by Tania D Campbell

 

A darker view of community is communicated. Yet, by holding up a mirror to society, Skeleton Cardboard’s work offers an alternative way forward to connection.

The marriage of image with text and symbols, drawing, and painting, goes well beyond the heyday of graffiti in New York, evoking ancient and prehistoric times and reminds us that we are, indeed, a link in the DNA chain of a mankind struggling to form and maintain structures of clan, tribe and community.

 

Fanakapan

UK artist, Fanakapan has long worked with the dichotomy of innocence and violence, with his balloon and candy characters that evoke memories of our own childhoods.  Sometimes playful and joyous and sometimes violent and macabre, his works challenge viewers to consider the ways in which we gloss over uncomfortable truths and sometimes re-invent “false memories” of happier times.

 

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Inflatable horse children of the apocalypse © by Fanakapan. Photo by Tania D Campbell

 

Whether the “Inflatable horse children of the apocalypse” series encourages us to throw off the veils of illusion of the re-invented childhoods that we, as adults, have used to cope with our pasts, or indeed whether we are meant to be encouraged to live our short lives to the fullest, one thing is certain: Fanakapan conveys the one universal truth which links all of mankind – the inevitability that birth is always chased by death.

 

Otto Schade

Death looms in much of the work of Chilean born artist, Otto Schade.  “Extreme Fishing”  is part of the artist’s oeuvre which focuses on the dichotomy between innocence (or ignorance) and violence at the societal level.

"Extreme Fishing" © by Otto Schade. Photo by Tania D Campbell

“Extreme Fishing” © by Otto Schade. Photo by Tania D Campbell

 

Familiar images of children at play are disrupted, as weapons – most often weapons of war – replace familiar objects of play.  The children continue playing, ignorant of the deadly nature of the game.

Otto Schade challenges the viewer to question the way in which we have come to see war as a game.  We have become desensitized to the brutality of killing, from playing violent and realistic virtual war games and from accepting the convoluted and dispassionate language of the killing machinery of modern warfare.  The death of a human being is described as as a “win” when an enemy is killed (“target acquired”) and as a “clerical error” when our own soldiers die (“collateral damage”).

The artist confronts the viewer with the blood on our own hands as we turn a blind eye to the reality of the game.  In “Extreme Fishing” the gun that is hooked by the boy’s fishing line points towards the boy.   Death is a moment away, and calls into question the very future of humanity if we fail to stop playing the game.

 

Illuzina

The future of humanity is called into question as well in Illuzina’s piece, “Gaia”.  In the piece, the mother goddess, Gaia, is represented with reference to images of early feminism, particularly the black lesbian feminist who was, for a long time, marginalised in a movement that had been dominated by the perspective of white middle class, Northern privilege.

 

"Gaia" © by Illuzina. Photo by Tania D Campbell

“Gaia” © by Illuzina. Photo by Tania D Campbell

 

The painting portrays woman as a powerful agent and offers positive racial and queer imagery.  Referencing the 1970s Black Exploitation genre of Northern cinema, it also calls forth and embraces the global South which has been exploited by the global North for her natural resource riches.

It is the obsession with excessive consumption in the North which has already triggered unpredictable and destructive impacts of man-made climate change.  The global South, with its inability to adapt to these changes, stands to suffer most.

Despite historical geo-politics, we are reminded that the population of the global South constitutes the majority of mankind.  The work not only gives prominence to the South in planetary dialogue but positions the planet as the centre of the discourse.

Illuzina’s work reminds us that there is no future for the community of mankind if we destroy the planet. If She dies, we all die, and we will all join the voices of our ancestors in a community of the dead.

Yet, the piece offers hope.  Gaia sits in a state of potential – unplugged and disconnected to her power.

The message of the piece, and perhaps an underlying theme in much of the Street Art in the Underhand exhibition is this: the marginalised are the majority.  This majority, once awakened and connected to their power as a community, can create positive social, environmental, political and spiritual change.

 

Many other talented artists not already mentioned have outstanding works in the show, making this exhibition well worth the visit.

Underhand runs at BSMT Space until 21 September.