Saturday, 24 May 2008

Krah World at Pure Evil Gallery

Pure Evil Gallery, 108 Leonard St., London.
22 May – 3 June (I think) 2008

The Krah, which is Greek for the corruption of civilisation, has been mystifying sober adults and scaring babies for many years on the streets of London. Typically the street stuff is half bloated machine, half organic being with infinitely flexible bendy arms and unusual numbers of fingers, often raised in what most of us would probably consider to be a peace gesture but may well be a metal styled devils horns. Body language interpretation is confused by the fantasy metal-flesh combination but facial gestures usually convey very precisely an emotion.

The Krah with Spit, Batemans Row, London

The Krah’s street work tends to be incredibly long lived, testimony to its quality. Some of the variety of media used in this show has been telegraphed outdoors where we have seen spray paint and marker pen, highlighter pen on cardboard, marker pen on road cone, inflatable balloons and paste-ups.

The Krah with Greek buddies b. and Littll, Brick Lane. London

Inside the over active imagination of the Krah it seems the universe is populated by two forms of hybrid being. There is the mainly organic, always wearing a hood or a fiendish space fighter pilot helmet; there are mainly robotic machine beings with organic arms and often a face presented on a TV screen, more than likely a machine’s simulation of a face to signal and communicate with the other organic beings in Krah world.

The Krah has taken over the dungeon walls of Pure Evil’s 108 Leonard Street gallery, and anything remotely resembling a ledge or shelf too. A trio of Krah people on roughly the same scale as The Krah’s larger street pieces have been painted onto a crudely white-washed wall so that the heads and main torso’s captured on a canvas are part of a wider tableau which, to own in its entirety, you’d have to buy PE’s basement. Wearing bizarre helmets, these three warty gnarled people wouldn’t get many Notting Hill dinner party invites.

The dungeon’s gloomy ambience is illuminated to a utilitarian 60 watt averageness making photography very tricky without flash, so apologies for the pictures, the choice was either no flash but lose the colours or use flash but swamp the pieces in glare.

Many of the cyborgs are being swathed in tentacles, suckers seek grip on some surface or victim yet some of the suckers become orifices through which a daughter tentacle reaches out. Some of the tentacles are tipped with some form of tool for burrowing or drilling. The scale of the figures and the background is constantly switching, do the characters occupy a world, or are the beings occupied by worlds. You have to be into your future fantasy sci-fi worlds to love this stuff.

What will be very interesting next week will be to view Doze Green’s work just across the road in The Leonard Street Gallery, it will impossible to ignore a resonance between the bio-mechanical forms bursting through the canvas of both artists. Maybe some kind person can illustrate the point with pix from both shows, I’ll be on a beach.

Un-expectedly there is an enormous amount of small sculptural pieces hidden in nooks and crannies, balancing on a pile of rough bricks or sitting on window ledges.
Some pieces are cast and painted Krah creatures, others take antiquated household objects, a wall lights shade here, a small globe there and transform them with the trademark Krah face into the bio-mechanical combi denizens of the Krah universe.

Miniature slinkachu-scale people an arid desert landscape centred around a Krah faced god, perhaps the god of ordinary small lives. The Krah himself professes this working with 3D miniature worlds to be one of is favourite artistic releases.

Other sculptural curios include the global graffiti staple, a train daubed with the distinctive mark of the artist, but conveniently this is more a hornby scale model painted with a Krah creature. Even curiouser is a collection of small cast Krah models housed under moulded plastic covers like a bizarre twist in the menu of one of those mass-produced home made whole grain sandwich emporiums.

The big success of this show is the large single character canvasses. As these pieces are the most direct descendants of the illegal exterior art perhaps its not surprising to reach this conclusion.

Pure Evil is a clever and cunning strategist. Prices are written all over the walls in invisible ink, you need to ask the delightful Maria to borrow the pocket UV lamp to read them. The effect is the love it/hate it decision is un-tainted by issues of affordability and borrowing of the purple light wand is a frank and public admission of desire. It’s a bit like giving your better half a joint credit card.

This Krah show has been eagerly anticipated for some time and the breadth of the materials surpasses expectation whilst the eccentricity and bizarreness of the characters occupying Krah space bites your head off. Probably the only other street artist assaulting the eyes in this quasi insane way at the moment is Judith Supine, though the styles bear little resemblance.

What have we gained in the gallery? The NoLions Through-The-In-Door analysis suggests detail, variety, sculpture, time, finish. The Living-Rough assessment is that the elements of simplicity and speed may still be wandering the streets. I really wanted to love this show as much as I love his outdoor illegals. The large canvasses really worked big time and one of these on your wall would directly reflect what we see on the streets but in the realms of the nick-nacks and smaller paintings, some barely 2 inch by 2 inch, it felt like being at the attic clearance car-boot sale of a sci fi nerd.

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