Saturday, 28 December 2013

London's Street Art 2013 - Nostalgia is so last year

They said it wouldn’t last and dammit they were right. The year turned out to be mortal, just 365 days long but attaching electrodes to 2013’s nipples, street artists cranked the generator handle to keep fresh work fizzing on the walls right to the very death. Let’s look back over the highlights, the brilliant walls, the teeny-weeny you’d-easily-miss-it fragments, the colours, the visiting international artists, the spats, the local artists who aren’t getting curated spots on permission mural walls, the REAL street art.

Words and photos: NoLionsInEngland

Street art is not a competition but Art Is Trash is 2013’s winner. Brash, colourful, inventive and at times downright lewd and crude, Art Is Trash turned his installations and painting into a performance. It was his ephemeral tragic bin bag characters and beasts that first caught our eye.

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Art Is Trash

He then took the fight to fly posters (ok, I know street art is doomed to lose that battle) with some twisted subversions of the airbushed, cool and fulfilled characters targeting our needy and product deprived community.

Art Is Trash subverts illegal fly posters
Art Is Trash

His cure for tapeworm may face challenges getting medical certification.

Art Is Trash

One of the most beautiful campaigns was the soulful floppy eared characters who appeared on vintage music sheets and magazine pages courtesy of Midge, sometimes in stunning collaborations with My Dog Sighs.

Midge v. My Dog Sighs

On the subject of vintage paper, 616’s trespassing in abandoned buildings resulted in the liberation of found letters from a bygone pre-email era, he picked out underlined highlights from the text which formed the basis for multiple distortions of his characteristic tribal cartoon characters.

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616 – “Monarch”

It has been a brilliant year for the highly promising ALO. His street work painted directly on the surface has won heaps of admirers and he is beginning to develop deserved traction in the gallery world.

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The world is certainly a brighter place for the pop art paste ups of D7606. After coming to attention for persuading icons of femininity that piss smelling phone boxes were the place to be seen in 2013, he expanded the repertoire to embrace other forms of technologically challenged communication utilities such as post boxes, valve TVs and “Tardis” police phone boxes.

D7606 – (“yeah, Billy love, just go to the hotel and straight up to his room”)

D7606 proved himself to be an exceptional engine for artistic collaboration, inviting artists such as 616, C3, Gee Street Art and Benjamin Murphy to integrate their characters into his pop soaked retro world but as suckers for interaction between pieces of street art, the perhaps unplanned addition of a letter to the interface between Skeleton Cardboard and D7606’s post box tickled us most.

Skeleton Cardboard's Final Demand to D7606
D7606 v. Skeleton Cardboard

Clet Abraham has been a frequent visitor in recent years though the vast majority of his traffic sign subversions from previous visits to London were “sign man” carrying a heavy beam. On his most recent visit late this year his interference with the authority's visual control signals demonstrated the full range of his witty and imaginative repertoire.

Clet Abraham

It would have been an incomplete year without the collaged brand-jacking of A.CE, he dutifully kept up a barrage of wheatpastes. Something unusual this year from A.CE was his "artist-cam" view of a night time bombing mission which captures the energy and “one man alone versus the city" of an intense illegal run, click A.CE: Inside The mind Of A Street Artist.

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The Horror Crew, Mr Fan in particular, has had a great year with work which challenges categorisation. The observant will see in addition to the gorgeous candy coloured pop imagery that the legs of the beast in the photograph below spell out HC FAN, defiantly blurring the boundary between street art and graffiti. Also, is this cool street art or a permissioned mural? Though we have chanced upon him painting this spot a couple of times in broad daylight without a care in the world, I am inclined to guess that Mr Fan has created these beautiful Koons hat tips without permission from the property owner. That supposition is supported by the absence of any camera crew documenting every squirt of paint and also the absence of any stencilled shouts to any mural organizers.

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Mr Fan HC

Sometimes it’s the small and un-shouty street art that deserves greatest admiration, a piece that is clever, took some effort and doesn’t scream “I’m an artist, buy ME ME ME “. This metalwork bird by artist unknown is stunningly placed, beautifully executed and its installation is ingenious in a way you can only appreciate by finding it on the street, one of my favourites of the year.


Something which seems quite commonplace in New York with their angle iron sign posts but which is rare in London is the metalwork tag. Artist “Three” from Singapore left this beautiful rusty tag on a wooden background of faded abstract spraypaint colours, a stunning and photogenic little piece which lasted quite a while.

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D*Face closed the old Stolenspace location with a spectacular solo show, reviewed here, which was accompanied by an epic mural next to Christchurch Spitalfields, beautifully juxtaposing the sins of the flesh and religious piety.

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In doing so, he provocatively went over a long running graffiti spot and to no one’s surprise, probably least of all D*Face’s, due response was delivered within days.

Graffiti v. Street Art

There is a long list of artists and pieces of work we want to include in this year’s annual review but in recognition of the attention span of our audience…and hello to anyone still reading this far…plus the fact that I may have figured out the technology for the first time, we are going to recognise the great contributions of some (not all) of those artists in a photo slide show.

Coming shortly will be part 2 of Graffoto’s review of the year 2013 in street art with emphasis on the larger and more spectacular work of visiting artists and muralists and anything we feel just should be mentioned even if only for being damn photogenic. Sign up for the Graffoto email or RSS and see ya shortly.

1 comment:

Mitch said...

Awaiting with an tiss a pay shoon........ It's been a pleasure reading your blog Dave...... Happy snapping in 2004....