Blam Solo Exhibition
New Cross Gallery
1 May – 24 May
In the world of graff art, few pieces achieve a wider recognition beyond hardcore wall spotting fetishists but one piece known to many otherwise dis-interested Londoners is the Oscar The Grouch on a wall in Shoreditch.
Credit for this enduring and council-preserved piece goes to Blam whose show opened in New Cross Gallery tonight. Blam is also known for freehand photorealistic enormo portraits such as Rolf Harris in the possibly doomed Southbank skateboard graff space.
First impression of the items shown in this bijou utilitarian space are blimey, they’re small. At the very bottom of the scale are postcards and badges. Nuff said.
A sprayed and acrylic painted Russian doll set indicate a painstaking attention to detail and the faces look like they ought to be someone. This nagging familiarity repeats throughout Blam’s portrait work. Meeting him in person you can instantly pick out the bug-eyed, bearded, pearl-toothed self-portraits but apparently most of the others are based on random anonymous photographs.
Blam’s cartoon skills are un-leashed in a small collection of pen sketches.
Progressing up the size chain, monocoloured spray cans are vacuum-sealed in plastic and framed. Four separate cans feature one letter each from Blam’s name captured in relief below the surface of the vacuum wrap. Curiously, each can is priced individually so all the Alans, Lilas, Marks, Berts and so on will have to scrap it out for the can bearing their initial.
Graffiti and gun culture thankfully have comparatively little association, Blam brings the two closer together by killing spraycans for fun and framing them. A double barrel shotgun was used to pepper a pair of cans and their mountboard with holes and as Blam suggests, this would look ultra-cool with a high intensity light behind it. The shot trapped inside the can rattles, which could make quite a novelty baby toy. A white version features the entry and exit holes from a gunshot bang on the centre, quite a piece of marksmanship if performed after the can has been vacuum sealed to the mountboard (don’t try this at home kids).
Moving on to the portraits, eyes and teef, anger, tiredness and plaque are the big things to take away. Blam uses a photorealistic technique and style not dissimilar to German graff artist Akut, the puggish half of Herakut. Working to produce a show such as this whilst holding down a full time proper job means late hours, no sleep and bags under the eyes, which Blam doesn’t spare us in the middle “Stare” piece of the eyes canvas threesome.
Henry Rollins from an iconic mid 90s blood-vessel bursting red portrait is the loose source of the aptly titled Anger.
An Oscar canvas will undoubtedly suit the wall of someone seeking a facsimile of the iconic street image. It might have been the entirely average lighting in the gallery but this canvas appeared to have a distracting orange tinge around it.
Oscar goes pop in a dark but rich print in an edition of 15, its overall multi-coloured lushness makes one forgive the giclee production.
The appreciation that Blam is a street artist who has taken the spraycan as more than a tool, as the form for art itself accompanies us as we board the sleeper back to London. We look forward to seeing Blam rocking the streets largescale again in the very near future.
As usual, more photos here