Saturday, 9 February 2008

Jef Aerosol Spray It Loud

Islington Arts Factory 8 Feb 2008

There are many reasons why people move out of central London…less stress, better schools, nature, the environment and definitely more space! Jef Aerosol’s new Show at the Islington Art Centre, not too far from Newcastle and roughly level with Stavangar, certainly has more space, more space for hanging, more quirky corners for hiding smaller canvasses and more space where crowds should be. Compared to a dense central London opening, this felt quite lightly populated though how many people were hidden away in the nooks crannies and side rooms at this converted church can’t be told.

Aerosol paints icons. Ghandi said an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. Blind Angle present substantial collection of portraiture on canvas, silkscreen prints and installation, all with the stencil as the chosen tool.

Colours are predominantly red and black so no break with Aerosol convention there, though the Blurting The Truth canvasses with red arrows spurting out through the artist’s fingers come in green, red, orange and purple with coloured rain splashing from on high.

Many images are familiar from the streets of London and France, but there are some new images. The 9 canvas colourway repetition of the Eros (Piccadily Circus) statue places the Christian Angel well over to the left to fire a cheeky trademark Aerosol arrow across the canvas.

Running through Aerosol’s work is a series of contrasts. The main wall installation highlights the gulf between the haves and the have-nots, the wealthy fame sluts and the invisible underdog. Deified personalities lord it over the downtrodden; Johnny Rotten, Nureyev, Sid Vicious and Twiggy sit aloof over an old beggar woman and her offspring, a farmer and his cow, and a dispassionate negro boy. The icons take centre stage, whilst the hungry, the aged and the dis-enfranchised lurk behind pillars and on walls down the sides of stairs and in corridors.

Rock and pop gods are here in abundance with representatives of the lifetime fully realised genius of say Neil Young juxtaposed with images of talent briefly flowered but taken early such as Jim Morrison, Sid Barrett and Ian Curtis. The rock portraits suffer simultaneously from familiarity through permeation into our conciousness through constant exposure and familiarity as Aerosol subjects. Knowing the subjects too well exposes the limitations of applying stencilism to portraiture, as the faces appear crudely contoured and curiously shaded. Is that a shadow above Iggy Pop’s lip or a hole where a nose should be? It is also hard to ignore that the rock star as canvas subject matter is the province of sweat shop artistry churned out ultra cheap for the student bedsit market, the parallel creating a gross under-estimation of Aerosol’s talent.

Aerosol’s captures a dynamic motion more successfully than any other practising stencilist. His flautist leaps with unrestrained exuberance and compare the original with the quality of Aerosol’s stencil as Nureyev throws himself into his ballet routine.

[i][color=Red][font=Verdana]insert photo: Richard Avedon[/font][/i] [/color]

Twiggy brings a breath of Carnaby street glamour though she looks more like a destitute orphan with an strangely oversize right arm than a symbolic waif-beauty.

Two prints were available, the intense richly red black and white self portrait with Mickey Mouse ears titled “Wake Up”, this manic staring Aerosol must have been woken with a cattle probe. The second print is the 100 x 100 sitting kid, an stencil of immense detail and pathos.

This is a charming show, the space to circulate is welcome, the irregular shape makes a pleasant change to the routine box cube gallery. Congratulations to Blind Angle for a very well handle print sale, with owners identities collated against the print number and a typed CoA handed over with the print, wish all galleries were so fastidious.

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