Friday, 29 February 2008

Souled Out - Beejoir, Mau-Mau, Cyclops & Kate Westerholt

Souled Out

The Leonard Street Gallery, 29 Feb - 22 March

Lets start with the artist whose share of the show has the highest quotient of street art, or perhaps beach art would be more appropriate.

Mau Mau

Mau Mau has gone more monumental on major themes explored in previous work, which is mainly that sound systems rock (and bump, and grind, and skank, and boogey), weed is good, tinged with his anti corporate, anti capitalism, anti branding stance. Poor old Ronald comes in for a hammering, on separate large canvasses being chased by a polar bear and eaten by polar bear pups. Mau Mau’s humour and skilful political targeting is verging close to Banksy-esque, particularly in the way that concept and idea is triumphing ahead of execution.

Mau Mau’s surf background comes to life in three series of skate decks, populated by girls, a pingu-like penguin and Paddington Bear and suited vandals. “Will decode html for food” indeed!

Three vertical dyptichs of gorgeous girls can be mixed and matched according to taste or, if you acquire all six, passing masturbatory whim, compare the photos below of the canvasses before hang and then hung. Mau Mau knows artistically how to handle a pair of breasts.

hung for show

On The Floor

(Stop comparing those photos now. )


Beejoir collapses into a soft leather chair, next to his tired lady, shakes his head and mutters “fuck”. Everyone wants a piece of him, he’s had enough of the feeding frenzy, of throwing editioned prints to the piranhas, religion bugs him and he’s not sure he even cares why, and he’s knackered from the massive amount of work that has gone into creating this show. Then, just when things seem like they can’t get any worse, the gallery have over-sold the “clearly a Virgin” A/Ps thinking there were five of each piece whereas there are only five en toto. How apt that show title now seems.

Thankfully, his work has been worthwhile, the product is stunning and the media diverse. Starting with the monumental FIX suit sacrificed on a cash cross, on 4,000 individual gold leaf papers and a cross of dollar bills, there is more than a passing suggestion that Beejoir sees it as himself on that cross. The combination of flat gold leaf and a religious symbolism reference old Russian orthodox iconography. Religion raises its head in an assembly of 60 handmade ink stamps, neatly framed in Perspex box which show the repeated word God in mirror image. The hole don’t-like-church-on-Sundays is taken to its limit with the “Clearly not a virgin” (above) Blurry Mary which challenges the viewer to determine is it the immaculate conception being challenged or your swallowing of the biblical text.

From religion it is not too great a leap to the theme of deceit. After blitzing the locality with spoof headlines from the fictional Believing Standard, Beejoir has assembled a series of small editions of newspaper stand banners proclaiming various subversive and situationist slogans. The ambiguity lies in whether the satirised target is the newspaper owning media moguls and their political masters propagating diabolically corrupt hogwash and consumerist rhetoric for the masses, or is it you for believing what you read? Beejoir asserts the latter. You decide for yourself if the art below is street, hall of residence or bachelor pad. Bringing the deceit and corruption to a pinnacle is the Lies , present in both original collage and stencil plus hand finish form and the pink lettered editioned print.

LV child is reworked as a fleshed out 3D bronze sculpture, the texture of the face not previously evident in the flat two tone of the print emphasizes an almost bovine resignation or silent despair on the victim’s face. However, would you want in your home a sculpture of a young chap who looks like he’s taking a poo?

Absolutely the stand-out piece of the show, directly assaulting the huge reputation of Tracey Emin by adding a bare midriff track suit top, leggings and a ton of bling, Beejoir has transformed an editioned Tracey Emin sketch into Trackie Emin.

Dominating one wall are uniform skulls, rank and file, pressed from flattened spray cans pop riveted onto chopped off spray-can bases, in one fell swoop solving a recurring dilemma for environmentalist anti-littering recycling friendly graffiti artists (arf). The grinning skulls hold promise of a life after death which curiously is for some the purpose of their religion, not that Beejoir cares about any. In anyone else’s hands the whole skull idea would be considered as a retread but for Beejoir this is new.

Further new direction comes in the trios of plastic roses with tightly furled flowers made from actual war medals, suspended in a plastic (paper weight) style casting. Although the totality of the pieces is presented in the shape of a cross, individually they are just very cute botanical specimens with a slightly subversive construction, but not in any sense “street”.

Beejoir has built an enormous following, his unsigned Beejoir picked up a “Wallie” at the 2007 Urban Art Awards. This show shows his growing fearlessness, a rebellion agasint the pressures to feed the masses desire for more and more re-sellable print stock, his clear progression beyond the pure street art and middle-finger-up anti-populist attitude rocks. His part of the show does not pander to anyone, least of all his print swallowing street art fan base, any passing iconic YBA, any deity, or any human. Souled Out? No one can accuse Beejoir of selling out.


Mutation is a rather ugly word, whose use invariably means corruption, modification and scarring, yet it is the key word that Luc Cyclops utters to describe the link bonding the work shown in his second foray in the TLSG project room. Charlie Brown has mutated into a one eyed Cyone, his misfortunate down trodden and manipulated persona now mutated to have one enormous eye. A series of blurry tabloid photos of the distressed tragic-comedy femme-fatale that is Brtiney give a third hand insight of how her predicament is set up, compounded and exploited in the pursuit of paper and magazine sales. Cyclops contrasts this with attractive collages of other feminine celebrities though there is a hint that faces are some that fractured.

The most consistent motif is the defacement of images by disembodied Mickey Mouse white gloved hands. This works best on the Spike, Mike, Ike (Lee, Tyson, Turner) hand finished stencils and stickers on wood.

So Much Space To Fill

This show underlines a major issue faced by TLSG, within the gallery they have the ability to present a huge amount of art under one roof. This show comfortably gives space to four quite diverse talents (Kate Westerhaus cross-stitch tapestry..oh fuck, how can I write about that, what do you think I am, a dress maker????) linked by the Souled Out Studios banner. Once again the TSLG mandate has been fulfilled.

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