Friday, 15 October 2010

Moniker Art Fair, Adam Neate, Frieze

Moniker Art Fair, 14 – 17 Oct 2010
Holywell Lane, London EC2A 3PQ

Adam Neate “The Flock Series”, 12 – 30 Oct 2010
Elms Lester Painting Rooms, 1-5 Flitcroft St, London, WC2H 8DH

Frieze Art Fair, Regents Park, 14 – 17 Oct 2010

{links above go to location maps}

All photos: nolionsinengland

Graffoto had an awesome day’s release from the grindstone today (Thursday 14 Oct 2010), spent hours at Frieze Art Fair, then cycled down to Elms Lester to see the 5 new Adam Neates on display, over then to Shoreditch for Moniker Art Fair and finally Choque Cultural Brazilian street art at Pure Evil gallery. Those legs need a rub. One day encompassed just about every valid form of contemporary art other than graffiti that is happening in London and, by extrapolation, the World.

Frieze is an overwhelming and exhausting experience. Quite a lot to like, quite a lot not worth giving two figs about. Adam Neate however has continued his trajectory and theme, creating anonymous portraits using multi-media coloured, painted, mirrored and transparent Perspex and metal. Compared to his incredible show there last year, there seems to be more depth literally in the 3D sense to the work but the movement seems to have been replaced by form, contour and shadowplay. At Frieze I saw nothing that was as interesting from an art perspective or as challenging, beautiful to behold and stimulating.

Elaine Sturtevant, Frieze

Reflecting on Frieze I realised that there wasn’t a single artist displayed who I would be aware of as being street or urban. Why is that? Culturally, graffiti, street art and urban art has an enormous fan base extending to almost anyone who has grown up through hip-hop, music and art in the past 40 years yet there is no evidence of this culture at the top end art fairs.

Adam Neate

The point of this write up is to highlight Moniker Art Fairs’ attempt to create a satellite urban art fair to bring this work to the wider more “received” art aficionados who this week grind the line between Cork St and Regents Park (Frieze) and to fill the void left after the demise of Zoo.

Throwing a few descriptive words out there to capture Moniker Art Fair:

Street Art – artists with work on display and or even creating live include, in no particular order Steve Powers, Faith47, Ben Eine, Herakut, Date Farmers, Jaybo, Swoon, Bast, Titifreak, Polly Morgan (ok, hand aloft – I don’t get how Polly Morgan fits into the street art scene unless the link is that you find dead animals by the side of the road, but I love her stuff so I’m not quibbling). If that looks like a list of weird unknowns to you, get thyself to Moniker for free and painless removal of scales from eyes. There is even a token Banksy (No Ball Games print) but that looks dull and jaded by comparison with the company it keeps.

Steve Powers

International: galleries from London, New York, Berlin, Milan, Los Angeles mainly focussing on their domestic artists

Jaybo Monk, CircleCulture, Berlin

Solo projects – a number of areas are given over to installations and mini solo shows which artists have really used to push themselves, this isn’t just junk that hadn’t shifted since the art bubble popped. Don’t miss:

Herakut – a section which reminded me loads of the red parlour room downstairs at the Dirty Laundry show in 2008, three or four delicious paintings and, must most eye-poppingly, a sculptural casting. Fascinating to see a characteristic Herakut animal masked figure rendered in 3 dimensions;

Herakut – Campbarbossa, London

Eine – a wall mounted collection of landscape font fetishising single word signs, some probably 10 to 15 feet long exploring a whole range of different fonts not normally seen in the EINE lexicon, plus a street alley tableau featuring a couple of shutters, a stickered and graffiti’d wall with props to a bunch of his London mates (not to mention I reckon quite a few websites guerrilla ambushing the wall with their stickers). I confess to being reminded of the signs Cyclops exhibited in several previous shows.

Polly Morgan – a coffin in a crypt erupting with stuffed chicks sits opposite a recreation of a taxidermist’s studio, creating an impact similar to the Banksy studio recreated at his Bristol show.

Polly Morgan

Films – there is a schedule of screenings of key films, I look forward to seeing Beautiful Losers for the first time and Bomb It II is being previewed.
Faces: at the opening tonight you couldn’t swing a cat stuffed by Polly Morgan without striking a key participant in the street art scene, an artist at your elbow, a gallerist smoozing, a photographer sliding off a bar, all forms of life present. We could call register but there isn’t space, doubtless those private view “court and social” photos will pop up on flickr.

Date Farmers – New Image Art, LA

Activities: Nicked off the Moniker website –

October 15th
- 11am-9pm/ Open to the public
- 12pm onwards/ Live Paint on Exterior Walls by Artists HERKUT
- 11.30pm-12.45 / RJ Rushmore [Vandalog prime mover} Inside/Outside Fair Walk-through
- 1.30pm-2.45 / RJ Rushmore Inside/Outside Fair Walk-through
- 5pm-7pm/ Film Screening - Guerilla Art by Sebastian Peiter
- 7pm-9pm/ Very Nearly Almost Magazine Launch - Guest List Only

October 16th
- 11am-9pm/ Open to the public
- 12pm onwards/ Live Paint on Exterior Walls by Artist CASE
- 7pm-9pm/ Film Screening - Beautiful Losers by Aaron Rose

October 17th
- 11am-5pm/ Open to the public/
- 12pm onwards/ Live Paint on Exterior Walls by Artist TITI-FREAK
- 1pm-3pm/ Film Screening - Bomb It 2 by Jon Reiss

Graffoto obviously preaches to the converted so we suggest that if you have a friend planning to attend any of the West End shows, specially Frieze, tell them that at Moniker there will be no queues, cool art and a far less tiring and twat filled (ok – you might want to paraphrase that part) environment that at Frieze and they will come away enthused rather than knackered. Tell them to go to Moniker first in the morning because in the evening they will be wiped out if they have been to Frieze first and they can swan around Frieze muttering loudly about the cool and cutting edge event they just went to out in East London, though its actually very easy to get to, about 10 mins walk from Liverpool street or Old Street tubes and after Moniker Regents Park is barely 20 mins tube ride way.

Futura – Campbarbossa

Tell them also not to miss the delicious wood paintings by South African Faith 47 tucked away on a very obscure wall by the rear fire exit, behind where the bouncers congregate.

In some ways the idea is not too dissimilar to The Thousands show staged here last year but the key is the variety that comes with the different international galleries and the timing to coincide with London for one week being the very epicentre of the international art world.

Just so you know, no one at Moniker or anywhere else for that matter has asked for this to be written or even knows that Graffoto holds this opinion and plans to write this. Graffoto will be maintaining its rigorous stance on not publishing flyers nor promoting forth coming shows with gallery blurb, we just felt on this occasion this needed to be said.

WK Interact – Carmichael Gallery (if memory serves), LA

More photos here

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Hell's Half Acre - Lazarides Group show

Leake St,

12 – 17 October 2010

All photos: nolionsinengland

Hells Half Acre promises to be a Halloween-ish subterranean wandering loosely based upon Dantes’s inferno.

You enter off Leake Street, now one of London’s premier graffiti halls of fame and therefore generally only worked by visiting writers from Prague and New Zealand. The transition from graffiti assault to Circles of Hell central you enter through a short brick lined cave where Dave Choe has been let loose directly on the walls. (er - perhaps i got the wrong impression, just hold on a mo...)

David Choe

Top highlight inside is the art taxidermist Poly Morgan’s almost luminous explosive cluster of stuffed pigeons. In a more radical and interesting world, this would be available in Ikea.

Poly Morgan

Conor Harrington has a set of 5 huge canvasses hung in the arc of a circle like something you might chance upon at night in a wood clearing just when you were beginning to believe you had passed the “virgins sacrificed here copse”. Harrington’s work is just made to be shown in this kind of moody The moody dank cellar vibe sets off the lush tones of Harrington’s work to vibrant effect, as usual.

Conor Harrington

Ian Francis’ work comes on in leaps and bounds, though I would now struggle to tell the Chloe Early from your Ian Francis in an “eyes-wide-open-but-labels-covered” test.

Ian Francis

Laz is your consummate leveller with none of the usual “don’t breath/ don’t photograph” preciousness, the website promises “Interaction with the works will be encouraged as part of this multi-sensory experience” though the only interaction I can recall was getting Lady NoLions’ camera wet in a drizzle installation across the width of one of the caverns. Apparently from a certain angle with the wind in the right direction it captures the light and splits it into its spectrum components though, as a visiting gallerist assured me, “it’s quite difficult making rainbows”. No photo.

Sphere with hypodermics – possibly Paul Insect?

Anthony Micallef’s work is getting more impressionist and darker with the increasing affinity for charcoal, like the Harrington the utilitarian backdrop really allowed the work to pop.

Anthony Micallef (fairly certain)

With a decent art show the experience is the objective dear boy, not the art education. So it’s a pleasure to confess that I couldn’t pin down a large number of the installations to an artists and then reading the blurb after the show, couldn’t identify half the artists’ names on the sheet.

(I thought this was Charles Kraft – but he’s not on the list) - UPDATE - Anthony Micallef - thanks "anonymous"

Mark Jenkins hanging humanoid chrysalis artefacts passed me by, they need pretext or context, are we looking into a human battery incubator or the pantry of some vampirish food preserver, dunno.

Mark Jenkins

Jonathon Yeo’s infamy rests on portraits collaged from clippings from porn mags. On this occasion he has pulled of a trompe d’oeil consisting of several layers of perspex with collaged nude clippings on each layer which for a person of a particular height, viewing from a particular point dead ahead combine and resolve into a pair of praying nude females. Tapping into lust as one of Dante’s circles this piece is amusing and delightful, if just a tad gimmicky.

Jonathan Yeo

There were many video installations in various terminal offshoots from the circles of hell, the one which captured the eye and the theme of death, torment and decay was a trio of what appeared to be back projected petris dishes with writhing maggots. You feel like standing there egging the buggers on to hatch.

Unknown (to me)

This is the hedonistic green shoots of the London art week, the week where bedlam meets capitalism in the name of decoration. The anointed PV’ers were a phenomenal clash. Italian suit-wearing suave faintly Mediterranean guys and their willowy black dress wearing Tasmins rubbed shoulders with un-shaven artists and the usual suspect forumite Laz fetishists. Graffoto – the blog that is proud to be plus 1! (thank you dear friend and “invitor”, you know who you are).


The curation and staging of this show is superb, as you would expect from Lazarides. I was reminded of the Faile Lost in Glimmering Shadows show in that old school or Paul Insect's Poison in the old Kings Coss baths. Dwell on the quality of the work and the dream-like nature of the staging as overall I think this show may actually not live up to the hype, the creation of false expectations. This is an “experience” event and the experience is probably a bit conventional and tame when something more fiendish and macabre seemed to be promised by the allusions to Hades, not to mention the dire warnings that under 13s are going to need adult comfort and counselling. I suspect my kids would prefer to go to the London Dungeons.

More photos here


Sunday, 10 October 2010

Mike Ballard - Whose Coat Is That Jacket You're Wearing

Walker's Tailor
157 Robert St,
London, NW1 3QR
8 – 23 October 2010

All photos: nolionsinengland

"I woke with a bolt this morning. I had been dreaming about the night my jacket went missing. I could see it all in the dream. Where everything and everyone was in the pub. M and E were sat at the table as I got up to goto the loo. My jacket hooked over the back of the chair. As I enter the loo, M goes to the bar, and starts chatting to two girls, while he’s waiting to be served. Elliot goes over to join hime (sic) and help with the drinks. In that split second A guy moves over to our table, squeezing through the crowds, grabs my coat and is out through the door, all while I am still pissing. It is the night everything changed." MBSC:JC/200.19

Ever wondered what kind of kunt lurks in a bar with the objective of stealing your personal property? Well Mike Ballard has created an art spectacle proposing “I am that kind of cunt”.

Mike Ballard has spent ten years taking his twisted and silent revenge on an innocent(ish) society. His story is that ten years ago a prized jacket was stolen from him in a bar. His grief and rage prompted him to go on a larceny spree, stealing coats in revenge against that silent unknown threat, the bar dipper.

Walker's Tailor

Now Mike is contrite, seeking to right his wrongs and to exorcise the demons. “Whose Coat is that your jacket is wearing” is a display of 200 coats Ballard stole during this 10 year campaign of shame and evil. Turn up, you might find yours and if you do Ballard wants you to have it back.

There is a twist of course, you have to be able to rigorously prove it is yours. Ballard never stole to profit, or to clothe himself or even particularly to inflict trauma and pain on any individual victim, he stole as revenge. He would then photograph every jacket, note the date and record the contents of every pocket. So can you remember what packet of sweets and phone number written in lipstick was in the jacket when it got stolen? Ballard has it all catalogued on a secret indexed card database and you just have to get the description of those details right to get your coat back.

"Fashion Week is here again, and loads of after parties going off. There’s always some dizzy intern working on the coat check" MBSC:JC/200.125

The show itself takes place in a tiny shop, seemingly formerly a tailor’s workshop, A densely packed forest of jackets hang down from the ceiling, you have to stoop low to move around. Hanging from each jacket is a kind of dated looking luggage label, each of which has an entry from Ballard’s diary.

The first sensation that hits you entering this cramped space is the smell, a whiff of damp mustiness falling off a collection of wet weather gear that has been stored away for too long in a dark cupboard.

The art within this show has to be perceived as a number of layers. Firstly, the tight packing of the clothes obliges you to see the aggregation of the individual deeds, the woods rather than the trees. The artistic desire to create a shock is partially satisfied with this overwhelming sense of the total misery represented by all this stolen property.

Ballard has structured the experience so you can’t really take in the details of individual garments but what you can appreciate is the next macro level of detail in the experience, the individual; statements tagged to each jacket. These reveal the real art of the show in the detail of the personal confessions, the insights into the mind and bizarre logic of the serial coat purloiner. One thing missing from these written vignettes is any sense of shame or guilt. Quite often the message is one blaming the victim and the words lead us to conclude that Ballard has actually never stopped blaming himself for whatever lapse or buffoonery on his part led to the loss of his jacket.

Of course there is way more to this than merely running a lost property locker. What Mike Ballard is saying is let’s see how much you can take, how sanguine can you be about the notion that celebrating other peoples transient misery is art and here we zoom back out to the” big idea” level of his art. It certainly has a shock factor. It is verging on performance art, and a very cerebral performance at that. Ballard is putting himself in the firing line (metaphorically if not always literally, it may not actually be Mike Ballard in the space at any particular time!) for the moral indignation of the many and of course the special fury of the few should any victims actually find their coat among the Ballard trove. In terms of the personal danger Ballard might be placing himself in this is almost up there with the conceptual artist Chris Burden who had a mate shoot him in the arm for art in 1971.

Let’s not forget the risk of police scrutiny Ballard may attract. Stealing coats is theft, thieving on this scale goes beyond petty, who is to say that Ballard won’t find himself assisting the Met with their enquiries some time soon.

"Were the answers to be found in this long war of the will against the power of taboo? I doubt it so I took another and another and another" MBSC:JC/200.161

The added ingredients in this conceptual layer cake include the idea of catharsis through public humiliation and also the challenge to a Society which incarcerates as a punitive measure – can you forgive me? If you can’t forgive the reformed coat thief, then what’s the point in prisons because you will clearly never forgive nor forget anyone who has been through the “that’ll teach you not to do that again” system of correction through punishment.

The reaction to the announcement of this show has firmly focussed on the big concept, both public (via the internet, that lovely dis-intermediating tool for direct and un-censored expression) and press have homed in on the clash between the artistic concept of creating a shock spectacle out of stolen property and the personal risks taken by the artist in revealing this despicable history.

Ballard is unique in creating a art concept that exposes him to vilification and possibly violent retribution, it is fascinating to watch and interest provoked in his concept has gone world-wide. With this particular genie now out of the bottle it is possible to run with a whole new genre of “Look I’ve been naughty, me” concept art performances.

"Why put your coat in a locker then not pay the 20p to lock it. It doesn’t make sense for the sake of 20p. You will from now on though" MBSC:JC/200.92

To test the integrity of the back story, and to dispel the notion that even the facade with its tangentially linked and convenient name might be a sham fabricated by Ballard, with a little “due diligence” on the internet Graffoto tracked down a photo of Walkers Tailor in its genuine previous life.

photo from online business directory here

Open during the huge draw that is London’s Frieze art fair, this show is very close to the Frieze site, about 10 minutes walk from the Frieze entrance if you cut through Chester Terrace to Albany St, or about 20 minutes if you walk the long way round past Great Portland St tube station. This is likely to be more confrontational than anything you are likely to see in that tented world of the surreal unreal.

Graffoto has been a champion of Ballard’s art, his immersive room experiences and the quality of his canvas paintings and light boxes have always been exceptional. There is nothing on sale here which actually isn’t new for Ballard but still this show is a totally new kettle of aquatic lifeforms. It is a show big on concepts and big on risks. It’s a show designed to be controversial, intended to shock and bound to provoke extreme reactions. The crime of stealing coat is a very intimate one, the property is personal and in virtually every instance the victim and perpetrator are in the same room at the same time. Should anyone identify their jacket, respond to the provocation and give the artist a slap, we will be at the front of the queue pointing and saying “you got what you deserve”.

"B. just called me and said she had her handbag stolen. Shit!!!....what the fuck, I’m raging but what can I say. I hope she never finds out what I’ve been doing. " MBSC:JC/200.39

Saturday, 9 October 2010

we are merely vermin

A brief retrospective on the Souls on Fire (SOF) lads, and a special mention for Vermin who has his own show this month

All photos by shellshock

“If human beings were shown what they're really like, they'd either kill one another as vermin, or hang themselves“ (Aldous Huxley)

I’ve always been partial to a bit of the Souls on Fire (SOF) crew. They make you work. It’s not a picture of a decent looking woman, or a 6th Former’s clumsy political message. They make you wonder what it is in their art that you like. It makes you delve into your inner core to worry about yourself and your own frame of mind. Am I a bit mad because I like this stuff? Don’t answer that question….

I wanted to do a short blog on their work, and when I had a look through my photo archive I realised that they are slightly elusive and their pieces were rather thin on my ground. But it’s still nice to raid the archive and show a smattering of their productions in Bristol.

SOF mainly hail from Frome in Somerset (pronounced ‘Froom’, like vroom, and NEVER ‘Frowm’, like gnome, although more and more newsreaders seem to be doing that) and consist of Pen, Boswell (who used to write under the name ‘Warp‘), Vermin and Rowdy. They mainly write and paint in Bristol and as you’ll see from my slightly random photos they also often work on their own, plus collaborating with other writers, some of whom may not be obvious choices.

Boswell & 3rd Eye - St Werberghs tunnel - August 2008

Pen & Rowdy - St Werberghs tunnel - August 2008

Here’s a few from the Mina Rd tunnel in Bristol a couple of years ago. Boswell does his customary ‘Where The Wild Things Are’ type creatures, but 3rd Eye has his ever so slightly fluffy edges with cartoon-ish characters (still maybe not a cartoon for the kiddiewinks though...).

Pen writes his name like he’s under electric shock treatment and Rowdy shows his ‘other style’; that of ethereal impressionist abstraction (it’s not all crocodiles and painted rocks you know)

Boswell and Pen - The Deaner - July 2009 (with a sliver of Kato on the left)

Boswell and Cheo close up - The Deaner - July 2009

Boswell and Cheo - The Deaner - July 2009

Over the other side of town, I’ve found a few in the archive from the Dean Lane skate park in July 2009. It’s no surprise that Boswell and Pen mutually work together (top photo), but let’s be honest who would have expected Cheo and Boswell to be able to sit on a wall in sync!? Somehow they pull it off, rather like a nice cop / nasty cop routine.

Vermin and Mr Jago - Stokes Croft - September 2010

Vermin - close up - Stokes Croft - September 2010

Finally, I’ve pinned one down from Vermin (a.k.a Dale ‘vn’ Marshall), painted this summer with Mr Jago round the back of Stokes Croft (the self proclaimed ’cultural quarter’ of Bristol). The emotion and fluidity in both of their work shines out for me.

I think it might be my Asperger’s leaning, but I could lap this stuff up all day. I find the abstractions and fantastical meanderings mesmerising, and I‘ve never been afraid of a bit of darkness and emotion. It‘s probably therefore no surprise that my favourite canvas was done by Crie, from the Trans Pennine Nomads (TPN) crew; someone I’ve blogged on several times before. And no visitor has ever had a bad word to say about it (yet.... Nolions & HAN have never been round to my

My Crie canvas

So, I’m looking forward to ‘Room 101, The Fine Art of Graffiti‘, which is Vermin’s first solo show, opening this week. It showcases 101 oil paintings completed in 101 days this summer, as well as five additional show paintings and site-specific installations. Details are on the flyer below.

The room 101 theme obviously draws parallels from George Orwell’s novel, 1984, as well as Dale’s personal experiences and ongoing battle with his own mental health, including stays in a secure unit. His history and life story (visit here for details) is in equal parts amazing, shocking and totally understandable when you see his art. I don’t know Dale but I feel some connection through his art, maybe aided by us being from the same city. My own minor battles cannot be compared to his, but I do get a strong personal feeling from all of this, and my heart skips a beat when I dip into his story and his soul.

The show also has a dedicated website here