So I went to a few private views around London a while ago. Free Range and other events were happening around East, which was a good enough reason to go and have a look around. I started out by checking out the Usugrow exhibition at the Stolen Space gallery next to the Truman Brewery, right off Brick Lane.
This gallery usually has interesting show, displaying mostly print-based work and fine draughtsmanship. Today the work was of Usugrow, a Japanese artist/illustrator who in specialises in skulls and hand-drawn type. The type was at first very alien, but after studying it a bit more with someone else we managed to make out english words written in his Japanese inspired calligraphic style. I don’t believe that everything was english as some words were illegible (or I was not patient enough to try and read it). I’m generally a big fan of ‘pretty’ drawings and this was not an exception. I enjoyed the work, which included a tribute drawing to Travis Barker (the Blink 182 drummer I am going to see on the 26th of July at the O2 in Brixton, I am going to feel 13 again!). The only thing I am trying to understand is the contemporary illustrator’s obsession with skulls… I keep seeing work featuring skeletons and both human and animal bones. I guess Damien Hirst really set a trend?
Next I wandered around Brick Lane and Great Eastern Street for a bit, looking at the various Photography BA exhibitions around. I was going to visit those on the morrow… Now was time for a friend’s exhibition on Rivington Street!
So the event was labelled ‘Art is a Party’. I must say I was disappointed when I arrived, as I thought they would literally put the ‘art’ in party and I would be living it up with them. Art is a Party is actually the name of their collective and is more self reflexive, as they all enjoy what they and want to share that with others. My disappointment was short-lived and based solely on my expectations though. The gallery featured trendy illustration work by the collective, ranging from collages to baked cakes. There was an interesting necklace by Kirsten Allen, with a wishbone and a one-time-use only clause to have a wish come true. Faithful to their name, the work was playful and imaginative.
(While the cake did not look particularly tasty this is quite an interesting approach to interactivity)
I managed to speak to James Hart, one of their spokesmen. He told me about their philosophy, the idea of work together as an ever-expanding creative collective that would allow the artists to bounce ideas of each other and result in a very diverse portfolio of outcomes. Definitely worth keeping an eye on them as they seemed to be quite keen on taking over the illustration scene.