'There are people in every major city in every country all over the world making street art. I think it is easily the biggest art movement ever. It is so exciting.'
Exciting, 2008, Ben Eine
This is how renowned artist Ben Eine describes the vivid, often illicit creative practice of street art, while others cannot wait but to clean it off or chiseled it from someone else's back wall. Street art is controversial, challenging and dichotomous, but is also a way of life; a sort of unique persona; 'religion.' It is organically intertwined with the urban environment and its aesthetics, though unconventional, is truly original.
'Wall to Wall' is an ambitious show. It was developed after a brainstorming session about how we could create an exhibition that incorporated Hang-Up's rare and unique selection of street art works, whilst tying in the movement's organic progression over the years.
When we first started to throw ideas about it, we had a lot of challenges to respond to. How do you grasp the essence of such multi-layered creative practice? How do you pick up and represent the best of it without undermining all its diversity?
On tackling those challenges, gallery manager Carla Nizzola says: 'We wanted to portray the many faces of street art - from the urban, derelict environment of 'the streets' - through the artists studio walls - to the contemporary white walls of a gallery space'. We kept very close to this concept , she continues, while curating the works, and in turn created an almost retrospective journey through the gallery.'
Teaser shot of the indoor installation 'Overflow' by RUN for 'Wall to Wall'.
The studio walls recreated withing the gallery setting.
To the white gallery walls.
Since 'Wall to Wall' seeks to capture the diverse nature of a complex art movement, we invited RUN to helps us achieve this ambitious task.
'Wall to Wall' seeks to represent the fluid progression of art on different walls (city and gallery). Can you tell us a bit more of the journey your work made from the streets to gallery spaces?
RUN: The journey is unavoidable. We evolve on any aspect so does my work. It is always going to be on the street but now it also stepped into galleries. The work goes to multiple levels and that's what I aim to do, change and grow.
And what about your style, how did the progression affect it?
RUN: I just want to be myself and expand my vocabulary... talk and be relevant to the world and that is what ART is about.
In one interview you say: ' I am not really interested anymore in the adrenaline rush of painting illegally. If a wall is legal, it is more than okay. It's already revolutionary and political to paint public spaces'. Can you expand a bit more on the role on street art in urban public spaces? Why do you find it revolutionary to paint legally?
RUN: It is not about illegality anymore. It is about a sense of power that public art gives to the artist, and then, once it is done, the painting (or whatever it is) does not belong to the artist anymore. You give it away, your 'baby', and the 'baby' is free in the world... My body produce adrenaline and it will always do. So when I paint, I feel so many emotions. But the revolution is in what you do and in what you represent on a wall, or on a piece of paper. Obviously walls belong in public spaces, and they give their voice to you individually, without the backing of the corporate industry. The people shall have the power to decide, not the politicians. The individuals make change and the difference.
The street art scene has changed a lot for the past 4- 5 years and it has become more commodified and less provocative. Some people even claim that street art is dead. Do you think that can lead to more and new or less and few forms of creativity on the streets? Can the fact that street art is sought after stimulate a change in people's perceptions of what art and what crime is?
RUN: I do Art and I am against crime. Graff never represented a crime for me. It is a common and obvious thing to say art is crime; it is like a slogan but we are past it now and beyond that point. Art on the streets has been so popular, almost gone to the opportunism use. I, however, just want to be able to make my own work and I found many strategies avoiding the 'criminal /crime' side of it... For example, asking for permission, ringing the bell on the door of a building and asking, whilst showing a sketch and smile.
Figures with exaggerated features and contorted bodies are a reoccurring theme in your work. Are they representative of anyone in particular?
RUN: Every shape I do is part of my vocabulary to express ideas or a feeling. Contemporary art (or conceptual art) has pushed the boundaries so far that ART is given a totally different meaning. For me a body is like a shell and it contains a different soul. I use these shells to tell stories. But I can only explain how I do it and no much else. Because the paintings, they come from such a deep place, that is pointless to explain why or what their meaning is. The exaggerated features is a trademark; signature character, my style. If we look at them on a more psychological level, the nose is a phallic symbol and the mouth - an exhaust, where the life goes in and out constantly.
You will be displaying some original drawings for sale alongside the installation at Hang-Up. Why have you chosen to do so?
RUN: I promised a man in Gambia (West Africa) that I will send to him and his family some money to set up a screen print workshop. I would also like to take my partner and her kids on holiday next summer.
Has the Hang-Up space inspired the artwork you will be creating, or has the artwork inspired the space?
RUN: The installation title is 'OVER FLOW'. I painted other rooms in the past so I am continuing the same there in a 360 degree space. The work is a dynamic and explosive flow of characters and colours moving all around. It is ethereal and looks like as if you have your eyes semi - shut, looking at a dance room with a strobe light on.
We finish our swift review of 'Wall to Wall' making with Hang-Up gallery manager Carla Nizzola's quote: 'Our aim is to create an unique engaging viewing experience, and we hope it is as enjoyable visiting as it has been creating it'.
Wall to Wall runs from 22 March - 27 April 2014
All images are courtesy of Carla Nizzola
Video by Josh Chow
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