Monday, 3 November 2014

Grafitti Colour Supplement

Brighton laines

Although a lot of my photography is what might be classified as "urban landscape", I tend to avoid grafitti, even spectacular examples like the one above.  Most "bombing" is plain ugly, and even the more elaborate work is, in the main, pretty crass: insensitive to context and witlessly imitative of models which are now at least thirty years old.  I find there is something quaintly classical about much grafitti; it's almost as if taggers are obliged to work from an approved sample book.

There is also, ironically, more than a tinge of American and Japanese "soft" cultural imperialism, an accusation most street artists would angrily reject.  But you'll seen the same cartoonish imported tropes dribbling down the facades of buildings worldwide, and the conclusion is hard to avoid.  It's McStarbucks by other means.

Southampton Common. Yawn...

Brighton station. Hardly an improvement...

 But, by Kobra, when it's good it's very good.  I am sometimes stunned by the facility and vision of an artist's panel of work.  It is a curious contemporary paradox, that our galleries are full of poorly-realised high-concept work, for sale to the hyper-rich at the price of a luxury car, while artists of real skill and imagination are adorning our public spaces free of charge.

Photographically, the challenge is the usual one: I want to make work which is worthwhile in its own right from, not of, what I see.  I'm not really interested in photography as documentation.  This is particularly acute when the subject is someone else's intentional artwork, whether it be a wall of spray-painting or a sculpture in the park.  I recently mentioned the work of Abelardo Morell, and I think his work with paintings in galleries is a very creative response to the problem, and exemplary of what I mean by making an image from a subject, not of it.

But, sometimes, you just have to make a record of something amazing, simply because it's there.  And may not be there for very long.

 Southampton Common

 Brighton laines


Kent Wiley said...

3 out of 5 ain't bad. Is the last one really a barrier outside a building?

Only peripherally related, is it true that Banksy got arrested recently? Or was that another ploy to raise his stock value?

Mike C. said...


No, I think it's a board replacing a shop window. Though obviously that job was not done in 5 minutes with a spraycan.

No idea about Banksy -- I'm not even convinced he really exists as an arrestable person...


Kent Wiley said...

Sorry to have even mentioned that. Another hoax.