Sunday, 23 October 2011

Adam Neate - Dimensional Paintings

To 29 Oct 2011

Elms Lester Painting Rooms
1-3-5 Flitcroft St,
London, WC2H 8DH

All photos by nolionsinEngland

Deep joy, another Adam Neate collection of new art at Elms Lester and another guided tour by gallerist Paul Jones. This is, I think, the third Adam Neate talk by Paul Jones I’ve had the pleasure of lurking at. Paul Jones describes Neate’s new works in terms of linear self-informing progression, each step forward a consequence of the previous stride. With the aid of a few pics, here is what stuck in the memory about this latest display, so no guarantee regarding accuracy.

Adam Neate - Dimensional Paintings

Neate continues with the figurative subject matter and 3D compositions. The 3D Perspex portraits retain the motion effects, the play with shadows and the cubist approach to representation through distorted surfaces and edges. The new aspect in the Perspex pieces is the introduction of mirrored perspex to throw the ambient light around the image with a greater degree of control. The stand out piece is Home Entertainment. Tremendous attention to detail surrounds the shadows cast by the standard lamp in the room. The picture incorporates photographs of both the artist and his wife, seemingly a one off multi-media effect the narrative appears to be that they have just taken a bath and the artist is viewing an image of his wife on the TV screen. I hope I understood that correctly!

Adam Neate - Home Entertainment
Home Entertainment

What also can’t be seen in the photo is that the curtains to the right are actually 3D louvers and Neate has used fibre optics to create pin points of light outside the window representing stars

Adam Neate - Dimensional Paintings
Home Entertainment

Neate retains his light, whimsical touch celebrating innocent love, classical beauty, shining lights and celestial choirs. Only kidding. This next piece is called No Way Out,, a man seeks solace in the bottle as relief from problems with his marriage and job. Exit is an organisation for promoting the early killing of old people or something. The composition is hugely 3D with every twist and trim of the Perspex sheets and tubes significant in defining a limb, a gesture or piece of fabric

Adam Neate - Dimensional Paintings
No Way Out

Neate has now set himself the challenge of proving himself a true painter by translating his kinetic layered portraits back to canvas. In this study, Neate has built up the layers to achieve a considerable relief effect from the surface of the canvas.

Adam Neate - Dimensional Paintings

One of the more interesting developments is portrayed by gallerist Paul as being accidental or intuitive, you decide. Having painted a figure of a man naked from the nips up and reflected at length upon what he saw on the canvas, Neate one day just picked up a Stanley knife and slashed at the canvas. The gaping slashes revealed a further layer or dimension within the canvas for him to play with. The slashes suggest perhaps ribs inside or maybe the self-harming consequence of listening too much to The Horrors.

Adam Neate - Dimensional Paintings

From the discovery of using the effect of opening up the surface of the canvas, Neate now exploits the plane of the canvas, explores into the depth of the canvas and with the addition of collaged objects reaches out of the surface of the canvas into the room space. This has now come to be termed the “dimensional painting”, playing with layers. In the drive through composition, although it may not seem so from the photo, Neate has created layers on the surface of the canvas with cut penetrations and additional inserts. The driver is collecting the fizzies from a hatch cut into the canvas, and those drinks are 3 dimensional, his wife has lowered a drinks tray which also is an additional layer sitting proud of the canvas plane, the folds in the boy’s teeshirt in the back is a 2D replica of the way Neate represents clothing folds in 3D using winding perpsex tubing. The driver married the bearded lady, no, sorry, that’s the shadow.

Adam Neate - Dimensional Paintings

Although not described by Paul Jones this way, it seems Neate follows a sort of three steps forward one step back iterative process in which after some experimentation with new stuff he goes back to an earlier technique to see if what he has learned affects the content or result from earlier ways of working. So in this show alongside the dimensional perspex painting we see a recent old style cardboard portrait.

Adam Neate - Dimensional Paintings

Perhaps the most radically different “painting” in this show is a stretched primed canvas which Neate has attacked with the Stanley knife and through the slashes, twists and folds has assembled a recognisably Neate-esque figure, the stretched canvas has been transformed into a sculpture contained cleverly within the original stretcher. Brilliant and stunning. For this piece, the position of the lighting is critical to create the fall of shadows within the piece that define nose, eyes, mouth in a way Neate has made his signature. The staging of this item as the sole focal point in a plain white corridor was beautiful.

Adam Neate - Dimensional Paintings

Neate defines himself as a painter though and to be honest the patter got slightly knotted when the question 'why is this one painting and not sculpture was thrown from the floor.

Adam Neate - Dimensional Paintings

lady NoLions thought there was something KKK sinister in this one.

The link across the various mediums used in this collection is the idea of layering, The phrase “Dimensional Painting” feels like it is almost an effort to define a new “new school”, lets hope that a less clumsy description evolves. Jones is charmingly evangelical on the subject of Neate’s work, he clearly regards Neate as the most complete and most significant painter of his generation, drawing analogies with great modern painters including Lucien Freud, Warhol, Cubists and impressionists. I’m easily persuaded based on the work in this show and the clear growth through the series of Elms Lester shows over the past four years.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

k-Guy & Occupy vs Greedy Bankers

All photos: NoLionsInEngland

A decent target and a good idea is all the motivation K-Guy requires for another politicised barb delivered through the medium of stencilled street art. Bankers and politicians are frequently a target for K-Guy and as usual, he delivers a simple message with exquisite timing and placement.

k-Guy @ Occupy LSX
Spraypaint,Carpet (quality: Eastern European municipal office standard issue)

K-Guy is coming from the same ideological origin as the protesters. They see a need, they seek a voice, they cut out the official channels of protest by putting direction action into effect. K-Guy rolls out the carpet.

k-Guy @ Occupy LSX

Throughout banking's casino years the watchdogs failed to bark, the cracks appeared with the run on Northern Rock in 2007 and shortly after the collapse of Lehman Brothers in Sep 08 K-Guy nailed the genesis of the ongoing crisis in capitalism with his October 2008 Memorial To The Boom Economy alongside the Bank Of England.

In Loving Memory Of The Boom Economy

Occupy has generated a substantial body of protest art around the camp and it was curious to feel a resonance with K-Guy’s earlier Memorial.

k-Guy @ Occupy LSX

The pot pourri of organisations, faiths, individuals and objectives that make up Occupy pride themselves on being a true democracy. They aren’t too shabby at media management either. There is a packed itinerary of events taking place today (sat 22 Oct), check out the details on the website OccupyLSX. (

k-Guy @ Occupy LSX
(got to be handy having the country's largest camping gear retail onsite!)

Having accompanied K-Guy to take some photographs of what he expected to be a very short-lived installation, I asked him if he was going to hang around to see what became of his carpet art, he shrugged and replied “my work here is done, I‘ve delivered my idea and now it has too look after itself". Some 30 minutes later the carpet was still there. It's well worth checking out K-Guy's track record with the political street art here, particularly relevant in the context of OccupyLSX is his exhortation that you might as well hoard your cash under the mattress, and photos of his Memorial To The Boom Economy can be found here.

More photos from OccupyLSX:

k-Guy @ Occupy LSX

Occupy LSX

Occupy LSX

Occupy LSX

k-Guy @ Occupy LSX

What Happened Next?

The protest remains in place. The news is entirely about the right to protest and the friction within the church over its response to the prescence of the camp, which has caused one canon to resign. Virtually nothing is said about the aims of the protest. K-Guy's rug remains in place, nopw the attractive unique foyer carpet to a small tent.

The limelight has definitely been stolen by a monopoly based piece of work which arrived on site over the weekend. Some claim it is the work of Banksy, if it is Banksy then it’s a huge disappointment. It has none of his usual colour palette, none of his "style" and it just isn't that funny. With political jibes Banksy always hits the target with an anarchist's guided precision, this is just lame. Occupy is about democratic change, wealth re-distribution, smash capitalism etc, this monopoly piece is, at best, about greedy bankers with their hands out (as if to some kind of..ooooo....Stability Fund...). Why does it look so much like a straight theft from Zeus with an Alec monopoly character slapped on it?

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Something Interesting About Banksy, Really!

all photos: NoLionsInEngland except where noted

Central London today saw a truck decorated by Banksy coming out of obscurity and into the full glare of the popular art commodity market.

Banksy Turbozone Circus Truck

Banksy comes in for a fair amount of criticism for being a stencil artist and therefore not doing hardcore freehand schizz or just lacking can control. The critic’s purpose normally isn’t to make Banksy small but to merely make the opinion holder look big. Banksy has never claimed to be a spray can virtuoso and this truck doesn’t provide compelling evidence of excessive modesty, it simply is a fairly average piece of spraycan art.

Banksy Turbozone truck

On one side a host of winged monkeys watch over a Mohican coiffed glowing red hammer wielding class warrior smashing the system, represented by a tv broadcasting an image of a gas mask.

Banksy - Turbozone Circus truck

On the other side is what appears to be a depiction of police fleeing from a bull armed with flame spitting artillery on its back, echoing the old Heavy Weaponry staple from the Banksy oeuvre.

Banksy - Turbozone Circus truck

One of the monkeys even has a set of cross-hairs on its face, so this is a composite of many Banksy signature elements, which is nice. I presume the goons guarding each corner were to add some frission of danger or excitement to the display, who knows, maybe Team Robbo would turn up.

Banksy - Turbozone Truck

So far so dull. Nothing particularly special about this piece it seems but I’d like to draw your attention to one aspect for which I think this does stand out. Come and join Graffoto in the world of the Banksy obsessive.

How can you tell your genuine Banksy from a fake made using a stencil purchased for a couple of quid off the internet. One way, you can buy a piece of art from his official outlets, they come signed or with a certificate from Pest Control and possibly a certification that the certificate is certifiably a certificate and so on, Another way, you photograph a piece on the street and wait to see if that piece is anointed by inclusion on the photo gallery on Banksy’s website. I think it’s true that if you have the necessary geekish knowledge, you can prove that the Banksy website is registered to people who are now or used to be proud mates of the legend rather than a fake website.

Banksy Bear NoLionInEngland
photo NoLionsInEngland, also seen at!

Finally, back the day, this charlatan Banksy used to actually stencil tag his street art can you believe. By his own account he started stencilling because it freed him from the slowness of his painting and he evidently stopped tagging his work when things got a bit hot regarding the dubious legality of his work from a police perspective. Thanks to the natural life cycle of graffiti, his stencil tags are now a pretty rare find, particularly in such pristine condition and as large as the pair on this truck. (ok, since you obviously will start racking your brains, try the Manchester poodle and also Old Street Happy Chopper but you got to go some to some lengths to see that one).

Banksy - Turbozone Circus truck
Turbozone Banksy tag, driver side rear

Among last ones I found were this one up on a derelict site up in Islington, it used to authenticate a chucked TV identical to the one behind the Foundry and currently hidden under the “Rat Trap”. This site has now been built on and the tag was obliterated by the party wall.

city road banksy signature
Note the rare exclamation mark!!

Most recently but again this was a few years ago, I came across these rare indoor Banksy tags, knocked up in the private area behind a bar when he was doing a legal wall on a back street in London’s West End.

Banksy tag

How long ago did Banksy last tag one of his street pieces? There is only one oracle to consult with a question like that and that’s Shellshock, co blog jockey and author of the various definitive-as-possible-without-actually-being-authorised quides to outdoor Banksies. Shellshock believes the last piece to be tagged is the 2006 Naked Lover in Bristol, I didn’t even realise it had a tag.

Banksy - naked lover

Other gems from Shellshock are that this is far from being the only Banksy lorry. I Banksy Locations and a Tour he mentions a truck painted similar to the Abi tribute piece on Sevier St, Bristol (book ref BR17) and also from the late 90s (I believe) here is the well known “Fragile Silence” Glastonbury trailer, though in his book Shellshock identifies Brizzle homies Lokey and Inkie collaborators with Banksy on that one.

Fragile Silence Glastonbury Truck 3 copy
Fragile Silence, still photo copyright BBC

It is interesting to compare and contrast the Banksy tags on the two lorries, look at previously observed change in the letter a.

Fragile Silence tag
Fragile Silence c. 1998, trailer tag, still photo copyright BBC

Banksy - Turbozone Circus truck
Turbozone Truck c .2003, passenger side front

So there it is, Banksy doesn't tag his public art any more, the old tags disappear as is the wont of this ephemeral daubing and suddenly, up pop two huge, sharp banksy tags. Try to get to see them via the Drewatts Auction (Cumberland Hotel, Monday 10 OCt 2011) and cherish their scarcity value. Another reason to catch this truck, Shellshock believes that of the various Banksy lorries this one is probably the least known and least photographed, until today I suppose.

Banksy - Turbozone Circus truck

I am as always hugely indebted to my great friend Shellshock who dissected my half formed thoughts and provided a ton of the facts which were an invaluable help in writing this article. Shellshock was the architect and guide of the original 2006 Banksy Tours in London and based on those he went on to publish the hugely popular Banksy Locations and Tours, now in its 4th edition in the UK. Then followed in 2010 the Banksy Locations (And A Tour) Vol 2 which covered Banksy street art in more graffiti locations from the UK. US readers may be interested to know that PM Press has just published Vols 1 and 2 of the Banksy Locations books in quite substantially amended and updated form.

PS – When I speak of Shellshock being the “go-to” guy for information on Banksy’s street art, I say that cos we discuss it so often and his knowledge is invaluable. I should say I often also discuss Banksy stuff with Art Of The State and Howaboutno who know their shit and just as equally are orifices on the matter.

Saki And Bitches - Tokyo Lady Chatterely

30 Sept–7th Oct, 2011

all photos: NoLionsInEngland

One of the joys of wandering the tarmac’t gallery of London’s outdoor artists is finding a new talent, an artist with an un-familiar signature getting up in a novel and unique style. One evening over a year ago, skirting around old street roundabout I spied a paste up and straight away was intrigued. An array of naked burlesque girls contorted themselves into the shapes of letters and spelled out a somewhat hard to decipher message.

Saki and Bitches

The first word was clearly SAKI, the last appeared to be BITCHES. This blatantly eroticised alphabet appeared to announce a rather extreme identity. Saki and bitches, and little doubt that the bitches in question were disporting themselves for the sexual gratification of Saki. The lewd tone made me think it wouldn’t last a day but it persisted for possibly a month or so.

Over the next three to six months, more pieces appeared including one high up on the infamous “fuck the fucking fuckers” anti Judge Clark spot, I mention this given the un-confirmed rumours as to which hardcore graff writer was likely to have been responsible for that beauty.

October 2010

The body of work grew but the mystery over who or what Saki and Bitches was about didn’t resolve itself. The very first piece suggested a graffiti writer’s letterform creative sensibility, the location of the second paste up suggested a writers ability to climb and desire to get high.

Saki and Bitches

Over the coming months, more paste ups appeared, then about 4 months ago, the first teasing messages started to appear…”first show coming soon” they proclaimed. I began to suspect this was a hoax, a double bluff, some kind of knowing wind up of us over-earnest street art crazy fan boys. I even began to loathe the artists exploitation of the medium to deliver their self advertising, this one spotted nailed up over a dub on Ladbroke Grove on Carnival weekend was just a bit too much zeitgeist jacking.

Saki and Bitches, Carnival
Carnival weekend, 2011

A waning affection for these naughty lined images was revived by the beauty of these transluscent pieces placed on phone boxes and bus shelters, double and triple street art points when you show just a teeny bit more imagination in execution and a location less mundane than the average hall of fame paste up spot.

Saki and Bitches
August 2011

When I spotted this over-size buxom cut out figure high up on the old Shoreditch railway sidings then I knew it was time to devote myself at least to a bit of research. Sure enough google located a single entry blog by Saki proclaiming the date and location of a show (- - though how under the radar Saki was at this point is indicated by the fact that the first three google hits were for photos and shit posted by…..yours truly, it seemed like no one else cared!

Saki and Bitches
September 2011

Saki is actually a demure, petite and smiling young ex tokyo-ite living in London for the past 7 years or so. She admits to a fondness for old school Japanese soft-core, tattoo artist iconography and she enjoys painting female curves.

Saki and Bitches

Saki and Bitches

The bulk of the works on show are executed on glass doors from old British Museum display cases, they look about the size of those waist high wooden cabinets with the sloping glass tops dedicated to interminable and obsessively documented moths or middle ages corn dollies. The pieces all have a super saturated intense colouration which Saki explains is due to the material itself, apparently the paint in contact with the glass never dries and when viewed through the glass never loses that flat cartoonish colouration.

Saki and Bitches

Saki admits to deliberately toying with men’s emotions particularly in the selection of her nom d’artiste. which provocatively combines a strong Japanese drink with a masculine misogynist view of woman-as-slut-object.

Saki and Bitches

The soft eroticism is given a sharp twist with the subtext of S&M in most of the images, I suspect that with some considerable research I might report a lot more knowledgeably on these fetish elements but - well, right now I don’t have the time to be as comprehensive in my due diligence as the subject matter warrants.

Saki and Bitches

I won’t lie and pretend this is the most brilliant art ever to come out of the Orient but I do love her execution and I’m a sucker for the innocent-pornographic overtones. My response to her art may be significantly coloured by an admiration for what Saki has put out on the street, which although it recently fell into the trap of abusing the public walls for apparently commercial promotion still continues to impress with its originality. Only one other female writer out there in London reaches illegal spots like Saki. An entirely average piece of street art – the horse by Stewy's Stencils was converted into one of my favourite by Saki’s brilliant Lady Godiva enhancement (below). I hope that nothing will have been lost in her future street work now that the veneer of intrigue has been stripped– Banksy beware!
Buxom Godiva - Saki and Bitches v. Stewys Stencils
Stewy's Stencils v. Saki and Bitches

more photos here