We generally know what to expect wandering Shoreditch, the epicentre of London’s street art scene so more than a little curiosity was provoked by the oddity of a picture frame stuck to a garage door known in the past as a street art magnet but more recently just splattered with gig flyers. The latter phenomenon is a product of the zero tolerance buff on street art but that’s a debate for another time.
Cursory inspection determines that the frame comes from Ikea, it’s a totally standard package even down to the standard IKEA backing sheet inside the frame and the impenetrable and unlikely scandi product name visible. So we thought.
It is immediately obvious that this is conceptual art on the street and the concept is thankfully not obscure. Actually, there are several concepts, the anomalous mass produced frames is referencing the commoditisation of art, decrying the exploitation of the street art phenomenon as a shameless marketing tool and then there’s the dig at people who are happy to buy their art pre-packaged from any soul-less furniture emporium, shrink-wrapped and anodyne, bland and innocuous and brimful with the deception of a designer lifestyle on a mass production budget.
The current state of street art is pretty damn poor, anything aspiring to imagery more complex than photoshopped cartoon characters or production values beyond inkjet printouts put up with flour and water or poorly cut single layer stencils is going to stand out. This particular example shines because it takes the simplest art necessity and by putting it in the street context raises so many interesting thoughts and questions.
Close inspection reveals that what looks like standard IKEA packaging is in fact clever re-modelled work from the artist. Firstly those Scandinavian product names, turns out they are just street art descriptors spelt backwards, add a couple of dots over the odd vowel and Bobs your uncle, you have a whole new Ikea product range.
The street art references continue in the small product icon in the middle of the sheet, you know, the one inside the picture frame to remind you that you are looking at a picture frame, the artist had installed a couple of spray cans.
The identity of the creator is revealed down among the patent labels and hazardous picture frame warnings were you will spot the tag of the artist, none other than K-Guy! This isn’t meant to be smart-arsed or deliberately smug writing, initially I thought they were completely un-modified frames and missed the detail that K-Guy had introduced his own Ikea product sheet into the frame. Too be honest all the concepts had been realised just by positioning picture frames in these street art halls of fame, the rest is vanity! (same can be said of any artist siggy).
It’s Sheep We’re Up Against
Frankly, it should have been easy to spot the hand of K-Guy much earlier because if there is one person who has consistently gone for a clever and more ironic level of street art installation it’s our political and social satirist K-Guy. This blog is beginning to look like K-Guy’s PR bitch but in terms of actual art on the street there’s not much else hitting his quality on the streets these days.
We found three IKEA frames today, there is apparently a fourth and K-Guy got his collar felt by the fuzz when installing the fifth, losing his ladder and drill into the bargain and in the process suffering the scorn and derision of some tag fag who was amused at the sight of an artfag getting arrested. Kept it real bruv!