Leake Street tunnel re-opened this morning to reveal a lush kaleidoscope of freehand spray graffiti and ensemble of burnt out cars. Crowd control barriers not required this time - no crowds! No ice cream vans, no posters, not even any staff, just a no-fuss “ok, at your leisure look at what we’ve done this time” vibe.
Cans 2 presents a teasing little treasure hunt for us…an alphabet “learner” (“A is for ATG”, “K is for Kool Skool) of letters sprayed at various points in various styles. Having identified a mere 15 letters on first visit, the presumption must be the full alphabet is there, ya just got to find ‘em. [update - now up to 23/26. when you have finished enjoying this post (thats an order!) read the subsequent post about the Alphabet hunt here or check out the flickr alphabet soup here]
The original un-missable “Gentrify This” hoarding by Insect has been done over by a wonderful piece of reverse graffiti consisting of torn layers of advertisements, which by the face portrait and technique shouts Vhils, though this needs to be confirmed.
The West Country is well represented in the first few yards of the tunnel, with the first of several owls by 45RPM, a pair of Inkie laydies and next to them a Mau Mau bo-peep allegory on the public fear of graffiti (its not the graffiti that makes places scary, it’s the scary people doing it!).
The eerily quiet tunnel is haunted by the ghost of the May bank holiday festival, this time the one name missing appears to be Banksy, there isn’t any particular piece which might make you think of the freehand pre-stencil Banksy from the mid 90s and Walls Of Fire Bristol days. Though of course, this may be wrong. Attribution is a challenge at this early stage of the “reveal” (unless you are an insider with a list or an awesome global graff expert), though we are reasonably confident of the identities attributed in this report, if you go to the related collection of picks on flickr (link below), the names of many artists probably should be taken with a pinch of salt.
Alexone opened a show of new work this week at the Stolen Space Gallery in Brick Lane, some liked it, others were indifferent. Response to Alexone’s new piece in the total must be a unanimous wow! Compositionally Alexone’s firebreathing dragon blends into the adjacent Conor Harrington horse rider thought the join is fudged by an explosion of gold paint. The pair together look gorgeous
Connor Harrington, Alexone
London based Greek and long time favourite The Krah has worked a sinuous organo-robotic piece intertwined with his more recent plague victim aliens. Slightly surprisingly there is no sign of his Athens buddy FORS who by recent evidence on London streets (well, outside The Foundry Bar actually) is known to be around.
The only Cans Mk I pieces from the original invited artists which are still in place are the Vihls reverse graffiti pair of faces (hurray!), Banky’s gorilla painter, the Faile wall stencils, and Pobel’s man trapped in shopping trolley. Oh – and all the people’s wall stuff is untouched.
The honour of vandalising the car wrecks this time is shared by Lucy McLauchlan, ATG Crew, Zeus and Dotmasters among others (ie. – no idea who they are). ATG play with the taxi, a shady looking passenger with his feet up gets driven around by a masked bandit, both by Alex One, whilst on the other side they reprise the “ATG love Ldn” piece seen earlier this year on the End Of The Line wall in Shoreditch. Lucy McLauchlan attacks the car with more abandon and dash than is usually seen in her characteristic crisply painted face-scapes, the characters present sterner, less alluring faces than her usual svelte pristine beauties, and there are no birds.
ATG, hardcore graff crew that they are, live up to their rooftop portfolio, popping up all over the tunnel up in the eaves and high above other pieces, fostering in the imagination an indifference to the control of the organisers which is true to the spirit of graff writing.
”A Is For ATG”, Asure (ATG Crew)
WordToMother has a piece with the painter character sitting in front of a modern city of towers with smoke belching cooling towers in the foreground. Opposite that, rather than conventionally declare his love for a maiden, WTM boasts the maiden loves him (though it could also be a homage to his actual mother!).
Pure Evil brings the sprit of rebellion to the show with the stolen slogans of Thomas Jefferson and even climbing into the roadworks to spray “I am so underground” in the excavation. Naughty puppy.
Busk has taken over those two slanted walls previously hosting the luscious Logan Hicks pieces and done some really tight photo realistic portraits.
An enormous cloudscape with birds and infinitely tall trees is instantly recognisable as pure Xenz.
One piece we love but have no idea (yet) who it’s by is this smaller piece incorporating a trio of figures, a woman with some kind of gas machine or gun perhaps, a superhero and a fleeing woman/child, can hardly make head or tail of what it might be about but it looks delicious.
update: Will Barras
Near the Lower Marsh exit, two of London’s cutest vandals get their space in the spotlight. SweetToof, possibly in a collaboration, and possibly with Cyclops has done a very large face with pink gums as usual but clothes pegs instead of teeth! The character extends an arm over the roof of the tunnel and clasps another clothes peg whilst the other hand works a peg loose from the gums, some kind of nightmare self administered dentistry. Again, the static ambiguity means this creature could be filling his gums with improvised clothes peg teeth. CEPT has declared his love for spray paint in the morning (presumably meaning the 3am type morning rather than cornflakes and toast time).
Copyright’s curious absence from the initial line up at Cans Festival is corrected this time with a lush but ambiguously captioned Love War with three gun toting maiden with practise targets marked on their torsos.
This piece with a pair of skeletons weeping over a scary eagle based animal whilst handing over diamonds (US exploitation of third world resources? – a always this is a complete guess) which is awesome for both the symbolism and the execution.
I-Lib, Dead By Thirty
A very coarse count suggests somewhere between 80 and 100 new pieces or work by possibly 40 or 50 artists. It’s a huge show, incredible that on the whole it was put up in two days. Beyond the sample of pieces shown or mentioned here is an awesome selection of top quality pieces, check out the much much bigger set of pictures on the link below.
L Is For London + Panik (ATG Crew)
What is the point? Well there’s loads. First simply is a response to the feeling that graffiti guys have no talent and can are at the limit of their abilities using stencils, well have a look now at what good street artists can do freehand armed with spray cans on rough walls. Second is to present an array of superb domestic and international graffiti and street art talents. Another is to enjoy, do it.
Get yer Cans 2 pics ere