A Smooth Introduction To London Street Art and Artists - Part II
Last week I talked a lot about Banksy. This week, let’s explore some other well-known street artists. You would expect that street artists would be very secretive and underground, but, surprisingly, many of them have websites and social media accounts. Nowadays, street artists are even commissioned to create art for shops, galleries, media companies, and organizations like the BBC. And their art pieces are pricey – one of Banksy’s auctioned works was sold for 750K£.
Alexis Diaz, a Puerto Rican artist and muralist renowned for his meticulously detailed, line-by-line work (like “Octophant” above). Diaz’s surreal work incorporates thousands of linear brushstrokes with vivid colours to establish remarkably corporeal depictions of zoo animals with human elements. This graffiti is located on Hanbury Street off Brick Lane and it is so highly regarded that it was left untouched by others, avoiding the common fate of average graffiti, which is often painted over or replaced by other artists’ work.
On the right above, “Crane” was created by the Belgianartist Roa. He generally paints wild/urban animals and birds that are native to the area. In certain cultures, the crane is considered a messenger of God.
Specifically in the Asian culture, it symbolizes longevity and immortality. Like “Octophant,” “Crane” is highly respected and has survived for two years already.
Ben Eine is obsessed with letters forming a word, which has sign-specific meaning. He is the creator of the 46-letter alphabet storefront shutters of the East End (above right), just a 10-minute walk off Liverpool Street. Prime Minister David Cameron’s wife is one of his fans; the couple presented one of Eine’s works to Barack Obama, acknowledging his connection to street artists after Shepard Fairey created a series of posters supporting Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, including the iconic “HOPE” portrait. …Because of his letter art, Eine is a renowned artist now, he was chosen to be one of the Urban Retailer’s designers, and created a graffiti-inspired scarf for Louis Vuitton. In 2011, Eine was invited by Amnesty International to design its 50th anniversary poster, joining other artists in supporting the charity through art. Eine continues to produce canvases and screenprints from his studio in Hastings, and aims to travel the world painting his colourful letters and statements on shutters and walls wherever he can.
Jimmy C. (a.k.a. James Cochran) is an Australian-born aerosol pointillist artist who is currently residing in France. His two graffiti works above were created in Shoreditch, but he works all around the world.
But back to Banksy. Interestingly, a Banksy alert goes on whenever he works in the streets. Once he takes a picture of his recent job, it goes viral a couple of hours later. In 2012, months after finishing “Slave Labour,” the graffiti was cut out of the wall, only to appear a week later at an auction in Miami with a reserved price of 500K. Local residents of Wood Green went on a strike and they claimed back their Banksy, then the graffiti was withdrawn from the auction.
The infamous “Slave Labour” graffiti (above) from 2012 protests against using sweat factories to fabricate Diamond Jubilee and London Olympics memorabilia in 2012. It’s a stencil graffiti which is the remarkable style of Banksy and other artists. Stencils are created by cutting out shapes and designs in a stiff material (such as cardboard or subject folders) to form an overall design or image. The stencil is then placed on the “canvas” gently and with quick, easy strokes of the aerosol can, the image begins to appear on the intended surface. This method of graffiti is popular amongst artists because of its swift technique that requires very little time. Time is always a factor with graffiti artists due to the constant threat of being caught by law enforcement.
Clet Abraham is a French street artist living in Italy, and his passion is to subtly alter the meaning of street signs all around Europe. His work is the master example of street art which is meant to engage us and put a smile on our face. Recently, he’s been working in London.
Fairey’s “OBEY” sticker in London (top) and his iconic Obama “HOPE” poster (bottom).
Click here to read more about London street art and artists in last week’s post!
Fairey’s Obama poster