Friday, 29 February 2008

Souled Out - Beejoir, Mau-Mau, Cyclops & Kate Westerholt

Souled Out

The Leonard Street Gallery, 29 Feb - 22 March

Lets start with the artist whose share of the show has the highest quotient of street art, or perhaps beach art would be more appropriate.

Mau Mau

Mau Mau has gone more monumental on major themes explored in previous work, which is mainly that sound systems rock (and bump, and grind, and skank, and boogey), weed is good, tinged with his anti corporate, anti capitalism, anti branding stance. Poor old Ronald comes in for a hammering, on separate large canvasses being chased by a polar bear and eaten by polar bear pups. Mau Mau’s humour and skilful political targeting is verging close to Banksy-esque, particularly in the way that concept and idea is triumphing ahead of execution.

Mau Mau’s surf background comes to life in three series of skate decks, populated by girls, a pingu-like penguin and Paddington Bear and suited vandals. “Will decode html for food” indeed!

Three vertical dyptichs of gorgeous girls can be mixed and matched according to taste or, if you acquire all six, passing masturbatory whim, compare the photos below of the canvasses before hang and then hung. Mau Mau knows artistically how to handle a pair of breasts.

hung for show

On The Floor

(Stop comparing those photos now. )


Beejoir collapses into a soft leather chair, next to his tired lady, shakes his head and mutters “fuck”. Everyone wants a piece of him, he’s had enough of the feeding frenzy, of throwing editioned prints to the piranhas, religion bugs him and he’s not sure he even cares why, and he’s knackered from the massive amount of work that has gone into creating this show. Then, just when things seem like they can’t get any worse, the gallery have over-sold the “clearly a Virgin” A/Ps thinking there were five of each piece whereas there are only five en toto. How apt that show title now seems.

Thankfully, his work has been worthwhile, the product is stunning and the media diverse. Starting with the monumental FIX suit sacrificed on a cash cross, on 4,000 individual gold leaf papers and a cross of dollar bills, there is more than a passing suggestion that Beejoir sees it as himself on that cross. The combination of flat gold leaf and a religious symbolism reference old Russian orthodox iconography. Religion raises its head in an assembly of 60 handmade ink stamps, neatly framed in Perspex box which show the repeated word God in mirror image. The hole don’t-like-church-on-Sundays is taken to its limit with the “Clearly not a virgin” (above) Blurry Mary which challenges the viewer to determine is it the immaculate conception being challenged or your swallowing of the biblical text.

From religion it is not too great a leap to the theme of deceit. After blitzing the locality with spoof headlines from the fictional Believing Standard, Beejoir has assembled a series of small editions of newspaper stand banners proclaiming various subversive and situationist slogans. The ambiguity lies in whether the satirised target is the newspaper owning media moguls and their political masters propagating diabolically corrupt hogwash and consumerist rhetoric for the masses, or is it you for believing what you read? Beejoir asserts the latter. You decide for yourself if the art below is street, hall of residence or bachelor pad. Bringing the deceit and corruption to a pinnacle is the Lies , present in both original collage and stencil plus hand finish form and the pink lettered editioned print.

LV child is reworked as a fleshed out 3D bronze sculpture, the texture of the face not previously evident in the flat two tone of the print emphasizes an almost bovine resignation or silent despair on the victim’s face. However, would you want in your home a sculpture of a young chap who looks like he’s taking a poo?

Absolutely the stand-out piece of the show, directly assaulting the huge reputation of Tracey Emin by adding a bare midriff track suit top, leggings and a ton of bling, Beejoir has transformed an editioned Tracey Emin sketch into Trackie Emin.

Dominating one wall are uniform skulls, rank and file, pressed from flattened spray cans pop riveted onto chopped off spray-can bases, in one fell swoop solving a recurring dilemma for environmentalist anti-littering recycling friendly graffiti artists (arf). The grinning skulls hold promise of a life after death which curiously is for some the purpose of their religion, not that Beejoir cares about any. In anyone else’s hands the whole skull idea would be considered as a retread but for Beejoir this is new.

Further new direction comes in the trios of plastic roses with tightly furled flowers made from actual war medals, suspended in a plastic (paper weight) style casting. Although the totality of the pieces is presented in the shape of a cross, individually they are just very cute botanical specimens with a slightly subversive construction, but not in any sense “street”.

Beejoir has built an enormous following, his unsigned Beejoir picked up a “Wallie” at the 2007 Urban Art Awards. This show shows his growing fearlessness, a rebellion agasint the pressures to feed the masses desire for more and more re-sellable print stock, his clear progression beyond the pure street art and middle-finger-up anti-populist attitude rocks. His part of the show does not pander to anyone, least of all his print swallowing street art fan base, any passing iconic YBA, any deity, or any human. Souled Out? No one can accuse Beejoir of selling out.


Mutation is a rather ugly word, whose use invariably means corruption, modification and scarring, yet it is the key word that Luc Cyclops utters to describe the link bonding the work shown in his second foray in the TLSG project room. Charlie Brown has mutated into a one eyed Cyone, his misfortunate down trodden and manipulated persona now mutated to have one enormous eye. A series of blurry tabloid photos of the distressed tragic-comedy femme-fatale that is Brtiney give a third hand insight of how her predicament is set up, compounded and exploited in the pursuit of paper and magazine sales. Cyclops contrasts this with attractive collages of other feminine celebrities though there is a hint that faces are some that fractured.

The most consistent motif is the defacement of images by disembodied Mickey Mouse white gloved hands. This works best on the Spike, Mike, Ike (Lee, Tyson, Turner) hand finished stencils and stickers on wood.

So Much Space To Fill

This show underlines a major issue faced by TLSG, within the gallery they have the ability to present a huge amount of art under one roof. This show comfortably gives space to four quite diverse talents (Kate Westerhaus cross-stitch tapestry..oh fuck, how can I write about that, what do you think I am, a dress maker????) linked by the Souled Out Studios banner. Once again the TSLG mandate has been fulfilled.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008


The floundering efforts of two blokes with no talent or ideas of their own to copy an idea tried out by thousands of others. The mercifully brief lunchtime photo session was interupted by from time to time by proper artists Mau Mau, Beejoir and Pure Evil, who all left sniggering.

NoLions' exhibitionist streak was flaunted again, which is surprising considering he has so much to be modest about. He seemed to think he could shamelessly strip off and pretend he had the physique of a 10 year old boy but the reality is he looks like he has just eaten a 10 year old boy.

The no doubt soon to be extremly lush, but currently dank wet cellar under Pure Evil's studio was the setting, whose warning shot as we cautiously descended the rickety woodworm rotten stairs was "watch out for any puddles, that's hydrochloric acid". . . . . . .

Monday, 25 February 2008

I'm Not A Pavement Sniffer, I'm A Pavement Sniffers Son

Just a quick Monday update on street life (which may or may not become a regular "thing")..... I think Monday is too boring a day to do it, but at the same time I hope at least one or two pieces make you smile.

Firstly, Dave The Chimp with another of the now numerous pieces around Hoxton by himself. This being the second colab with Spanish laaaydeee Rabodiga

Then two new names (to me at least) and certainly both leave me wanting more "Sofiski" (as yet cannot find anything else on Flickr....I must remember that other websites do exist) and some nice stuff from "Mr Ace" (haven't yet looked further into weblinks thus far)

Some long awaited action on the streets from Beejoir in the form of "Believing Standard" Newstand Banners. He brought with him his Souled Out Studio cohort and partner in grime "Mau Mau".....both are in town for this week's Leonard Street Gallery Show (more to come from NoLions on that front soon!) It was good to see some of his amazing styles next to some of the best Cyclops stuff I have yet seen on the street . . .or anywhere for that matter.

And then to finish that little lot off, a really cool Sickboy tag :)

Arofish Solo Show

A long time coming for Mr Fish this one, he should have had a solo show a very long time ago.
Few can argue that his stencils are simply second to none (as witnessed a few posts back in his return to hitting up the streets of East London)

So, back to his more usual stomping ground, and over to New Cross for his show entitled "Scrapped". It's gonna be a good one....I can feel it in my infected bladder!!

Friday, 22 February 2008

The Eefos of Bortusk

Viola Gallery 1a Turville St 21 Feb 2008

First, a short summary of recent street art history as background to tonight’s show. Several months ago a flutter occurred literally on the streets of London when a flock of pigeons appeared on the walls of Hoxton and Shoreditch. Thinkfly took the whole fluorescent pigeon with eyes and teeth genre to its limits and he and his flock disappeared almost as fast as they came.


At Christmas, grotesque dayglo monsters from the feverish imagination and possibly hand of a child sprayed directly onto newsprint started appearing daily on walls and hoardings across E1, proudly signed by the artist Bortusk Leer. Anagrams ahoy! Many mainly meaningless permutations of the letters were tested but once the word Luke sprang out of the mess, a surname soon followed and the culprit was swiftly located somewhere around and occasionally in The Leonard Street Gallery. Before this riddle was solved however, a completely anonymous pasted up rosette of Santa’s elves appeared in one location in Blackaller Street exactly at Christmas, followed by further lone Santa’s babes in isolated locations across over to Brick Lane.


Nothing to connect the two phenomenon was obvious. Within the last month however, variations on the glamour babes started to appear at the same locations and same times as the rash of paper monsters. Pinning Bortusk Leer to a wall the truth was extracted, a friend of his who was responsible and was going under a nom-de-rue which was her real name backwards. This revelation required the re-captioning of many pictures posted on flickr. Tonight, uniquely, for the first time ever, the same pictures are being re-captioned for the second time following the discovery that the artist can’t spell Sophie.

Bortusk Leer and Eefos

Lest there be any confusion, tonight’s opening is the joint show of the two artists Bortusk Leer and Eefos whose street biography is crudely mis-represented above and whose name lends itself to the pun in the show’s title. Thinkfly got fed up of being pigeon-holed and morphed into the Bortusk Leer under consideration.

The cosy confines of a small room just off Redchurch street – opposite that Banksy tag in the meter box for those who know it or have a copy of BLT – plays host to a large number of compactly hung modified pictures by Bortusk Leer and a smaller collection of Eefos glamour girls in rosettes and panoramas in a variety of uniforms.

The largest paintings which have been subjected to the Bortusk Leer treatment recall a Crude Oils-esque (Banksy in case ya don’t know) alteration, though my favourite is the somewhat smaller corruption of a group of French soldiers from Napoleaonic times which bring to mind the Chapman Brothers defacing (dontcha love mischievously putting those words together) Goya. Given the scale of the pictures, and some are barely 2 inches by 2 inches, this is paste up vandalism on a truely micro scale.

Bortusk Leer

On the streets all Thinkfly’s pigeons had human parts superimposed but Bortusk Leer has flipped the concept in many cases here with humans having animal parts added. Wisely and thankfully, Bortusk keeps the more eroticised images off the streets, looking at the rather gynaecological positioning of a cat’s face between a woman’s thighs doesn’t bring the word “subtle” to mind.

Bortusk Leer

Judith Supine comparisons seem inevitable but this would miss the humour underpinning Bortusk Leer’s work. A smile is what Leer seeks and fun is writ right through his pictures. His rapid rise from a few pigeons on the roadside to a fully fledged show opening in a gallery is infused with an “I can do that” punk spirit.

Good news for fans of the lurid monsters is Bortusk plans to introduce a few of these at the weekend into the gallery. At the rate he manages to whack these up on the street it should be possibly to get several hundred uniques knocked out by Friday.

Turning to his friend, first of all lets get the obvious Hello question out of the way once and for all, Bortusk Leer and Eefos may turn to eachother for friendship and perhaps a look-out when being naughty against a wall, but friendship and an accomplice for art devilment is all it is!

Eefos in contrast to Bortusk Leer has essentially taken her street motif directly into the frame with little modification, which is perfect for the street art purists among us. Using a simple vintage glamour girl image, clad in various coy conservatively revealing outfits and replicated her in multiple rows and rosettes, Eefos’ pictures remind one of a vintage piece of Busby Berkely choreography.


As the girls reach out to each other and brush each other’s thighs there is a nuance of lesbian eroticism, though that could just be my mind. Most of the work presented is available in modest editions of 5. The same cute sweetness of the street paste ups is captured in an un-demanding way on the gallery walls.


Connections matter a lot; Pure Evil, Beejoir and Mau Mau being among the street celebrities spotted tonight. Cojones count too, and having the necessary to decide that they could do it, that they would have fun doing it and that they would take it all the way to a show indicates spirit, though the relative simplicity of what is presented tonight suggests Bonhams won’t be hammering on the door just yet. Get the point, just enjoy!

Viola Gallery – a rather small room!

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Black Rat Press Print Show

Rivington Street 16 Feb 2008

With domestic interiors across the land filling up with prints from street artists, Black Rat Press have blessed the inquisitive and acquisitive with an education in the back stage aspects of the artists work. Sadly, the Rat couldn’t make it to BRP’s Print Show opening so will remain ignorant of how Matt Small suppresses the DTs to scrape a sharp object in smooth curves across an etching plate.

The walls however contain a good variety of new and familiar prints from most of the great leaders of the revolution, in no particular order (but willing to promote or relegate for gifts) these are Swoon, D*Face, Blek Le Rat, Matt Small, Nick Walker and Slinkachu.

In addition to prints released on Valentines day, D*Face has produced unique variants on dead Che, this time the luscious unique Che collage on ultra commie red background has a further inner skull tearing its way through the surface Che with skeleton hands bursting through the paper of the surface Che. Dead Che also appears in three colourways on burnished steel, wildly bling and strong wall mounts required!


Tastily displayed are a set of Swoon very limited edition (20 I think) very hand finished prints called Baba Yaga (the wild woman, the witch, the mistress of magic – google expert). When Swoon hand finishes to make each edition copy different it isn’t the old “on this one that line is 1mm longer” trivial differences, each of this Swoon edition did look radically different, compare the two below. Baba Yaga has the wisdom of the years gouged in her wrinkles, not page 3 material.
Baba Yaga - Swoon

In parallel with the familiar but still stunning multicoloured portraits, Matt Small has worked on 6 light boxes, which weren’t actually turned on at the time of viewing. The paint run effect looked a bit messy and the usual capture of the subjects’ distrust, boredom, sullenness or suspicion is not quite there but these may well look spectacular with the light actually on, we shall return! [edit - rubbish! linoprints on VCRs, not lightboxes. Doesn't make them any better to these eyes. Sorry - NoLions] Several other Matt Small prints in the usual rich multi colour splatter are shown and an interesting etched line drawing black on cream paper, apparently Matt wasn’t impressed with the multi-colour version.

Matt Small Linoprints on dead VCRs

Six different Blek le Rat rat monoprints, all unique, looked the nuts with their rats clambering over a bleached background. The gun toting Space Cowboy, intimidating in posture and size, remain available having been seen at the White Noise show.

Blek Le Rat

At the time of viewing several blank spots on the wall were getting the BRP illumination effect – wouldn’t we all love to be able to light our collections at home like that – hopefully the missing Nick Walkers will have filled these spaces.

The Slinkachoo night time lover’s lightbox looked sweet, the out of focus background echoing the lovers’ oblivion to their surroundings.


This show does what it says on the tin, a strong collection of prints and artists has been assembled for the benefit of those not quite in the league of commissioning one off canvasses direct from the artist, plus a bit of education for us rude mechanicals to boot.

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Jef Aerosol Spray It Loud

Islington Arts Factory 8 Feb 2008

There are many reasons why people move out of central London…less stress, better schools, nature, the environment and definitely more space! Jef Aerosol’s new Show at the Islington Art Centre, not too far from Newcastle and roughly level with Stavangar, certainly has more space, more space for hanging, more quirky corners for hiding smaller canvasses and more space where crowds should be. Compared to a dense central London opening, this felt quite lightly populated though how many people were hidden away in the nooks crannies and side rooms at this converted church can’t be told.

Aerosol paints icons. Ghandi said an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. Blind Angle present substantial collection of portraiture on canvas, silkscreen prints and installation, all with the stencil as the chosen tool.

Colours are predominantly red and black so no break with Aerosol convention there, though the Blurting The Truth canvasses with red arrows spurting out through the artist’s fingers come in green, red, orange and purple with coloured rain splashing from on high.

Many images are familiar from the streets of London and France, but there are some new images. The 9 canvas colourway repetition of the Eros (Piccadily Circus) statue places the Christian Angel well over to the left to fire a cheeky trademark Aerosol arrow across the canvas.

Running through Aerosol’s work is a series of contrasts. The main wall installation highlights the gulf between the haves and the have-nots, the wealthy fame sluts and the invisible underdog. Deified personalities lord it over the downtrodden; Johnny Rotten, Nureyev, Sid Vicious and Twiggy sit aloof over an old beggar woman and her offspring, a farmer and his cow, and a dispassionate negro boy. The icons take centre stage, whilst the hungry, the aged and the dis-enfranchised lurk behind pillars and on walls down the sides of stairs and in corridors.

Rock and pop gods are here in abundance with representatives of the lifetime fully realised genius of say Neil Young juxtaposed with images of talent briefly flowered but taken early such as Jim Morrison, Sid Barrett and Ian Curtis. The rock portraits suffer simultaneously from familiarity through permeation into our conciousness through constant exposure and familiarity as Aerosol subjects. Knowing the subjects too well exposes the limitations of applying stencilism to portraiture, as the faces appear crudely contoured and curiously shaded. Is that a shadow above Iggy Pop’s lip or a hole where a nose should be? It is also hard to ignore that the rock star as canvas subject matter is the province of sweat shop artistry churned out ultra cheap for the student bedsit market, the parallel creating a gross under-estimation of Aerosol’s talent.

Aerosol’s captures a dynamic motion more successfully than any other practising stencilist. His flautist leaps with unrestrained exuberance and compare the original with the quality of Aerosol’s stencil as Nureyev throws himself into his ballet routine.

[i][color=Red][font=Verdana]insert photo: Richard Avedon[/font][/i] [/color]

Twiggy brings a breath of Carnaby street glamour though she looks more like a destitute orphan with an strangely oversize right arm than a symbolic waif-beauty.

Two prints were available, the intense richly red black and white self portrait with Mickey Mouse ears titled “Wake Up”, this manic staring Aerosol must have been woken with a cattle probe. The second print is the 100 x 100 sitting kid, an stencil of immense detail and pathos.

This is a charming show, the space to circulate is welcome, the irregular shape makes a pleasant change to the routine box cube gallery. Congratulations to Blind Angle for a very well handle print sale, with owners identities collated against the print number and a typed CoA handed over with the print, wish all galleries were so fastidious.

Friday, 8 February 2008

Arofish Returns

I have never seen too many Arofish stencils around Shoreditch (primarily they crop up on the Southbank and surronding areas) but what he lacks in quantity he certainly makes up for in quality and they are always worth waiting for. Spotted by the now eagle eyed and very clued up Nolions. . . . . .

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Urban Art - Insanity Takes Hold

(all photos Bonhams)

Originating from the streets of Bristol, Brighton and London, growing up via galleries in the East End (TLSG and BRP well represented tonight), the street print and canvas fetish they call urban art arrived in the plush west end auction rooms of Bonhams tonight .

Standing room only as Banksy stole the show, with new records for signed and unsigned screenprints, and a high score of £190,000 plus about £50,350 in premium and taxes was reached for the multiple Laugh Now monkeys on painted board. Other Banksy highlights included £82,000 for the pink punk canvas, rather a lot for a picture which looks like it might belong in your daughter’s bedroom and the jaw dropping £80,000, that’s over £100k with add ons, for the signed editioned print, read it again..editioned, Kate Moss (30/50) which undoubtedly brought a smile to one seller’s face.

Note all prices here are hammer prices, add a further 26-28% for buyers premium, VAT and artists fees, which raises the interesting question of how will Banksy get his since you have to provide name and address to collect!

Christ With Shopping Bags (13/82) topped the prices for other signed prints at £17,000 whilst signed HMV (19/150) and Golf Sale (27/750) both realised £11,000 and signed I Fought The Law brought in £10,000. The last three make the £11,000 paid for an un-signed Bomb Middle England (288/500) look like in-explicable lunacy. The only rat at the show other than me, an un-signed Gansta Rat (94/350) went for £6,500.

Nick Walker’s burgeoning recognition, his soaring talent showcased superbly in LA at the moment was rewarded by a Moona Lisa canvas stretching to a cheeky £45,000. The beautiful London Morning After AP 12/12 with its lush blue sky went for £4,500 and probably drew the largest number of frantically waved paddles.

Two very dark but classy Guy Denning oil on canvases priced erratically with the 50x70 Fear and Loss knocking down for £8,000 compared to the comparative bargain of £2,000 for the 50x50 We Saw This.

Antony Micallef flippers failed to catch fire with the Peacekeeper Uzi loving quartet ranging from £1,700 to £2,200. That’ll teach ya.

Adam Neate’s The Apprentice went for a tasty £36,000 making the smaller Neates on cardboard look a comparative steal at between £5,500 and £8,500.

Catalogues sold out so expect those to flip on eBay at a ridiculous premium any minute now.

The auction had more buzz than a hive on acid and undoubtedly suggests that apparently faltering prices are due to kick on again. If that’s what you want. Frankly the mood did border on the insane, though the buyer of the top priced piece has been popping up at all the street art openings for some time so wasn't bidding in ignorance. Given the awesome/in-explicable prices achieved for the somewhat patchy to mediocre selection auctioned tonight I would be surprised if cashing in on the street art bubble isn’t attempted again fairly soon.