Viola Gallery 1a Turville St 21 Feb 2008
First, a short summary of recent street art history as background to tonight’s show. Several months ago a flutter occurred literally on the streets of London when a flock of pigeons appeared on the walls of Hoxton and Shoreditch. Thinkfly took the whole fluorescent pigeon with eyes and teeth genre to its limits and he and his flock disappeared almost as fast as they came.
At Christmas, grotesque dayglo monsters from the feverish imagination and possibly hand of a child sprayed directly onto newsprint started appearing daily on walls and hoardings across E1, proudly signed by the artist Bortusk Leer. Anagrams ahoy! Many mainly meaningless permutations of the letters were tested but once the word Luke sprang out of the mess, a surname soon followed and the culprit was swiftly located somewhere around and occasionally in The Leonard Street Gallery. Before this riddle was solved however, a completely anonymous pasted up rosette of Santa’s elves appeared in one location in Blackaller Street exactly at Christmas, followed by further lone Santa’s babes in isolated locations across over to Brick Lane.
Nothing to connect the two phenomenon was obvious. Within the last month however, variations on the glamour babes started to appear at the same locations and same times as the rash of paper monsters. Pinning Bortusk Leer to a wall the truth was extracted, a friend of his who was responsible and was going under a nom-de-rue which was her real name backwards. This revelation required the re-captioning of many pictures posted on flickr. Tonight, uniquely, for the first time ever, the same pictures are being re-captioned for the second time following the discovery that the artist can’t spell Sophie.
Bortusk Leer and Eefos
Lest there be any confusion, tonight’s opening is the joint show of the two artists Bortusk Leer and Eefos whose street biography is crudely mis-represented above and whose name lends itself to the pun in the show’s title. Thinkfly got fed up of being pigeon-holed and morphed into the Bortusk Leer under consideration.
The cosy confines of a small room just off Redchurch street – opposite that Banksy tag in the meter box for those who know it or have a copy of BLT – plays host to a large number of compactly hung modified pictures by Bortusk Leer and a smaller collection of Eefos glamour girls in rosettes and panoramas in a variety of uniforms.
The largest paintings which have been subjected to the Bortusk Leer treatment recall a Crude Oils-esque (Banksy in case ya don’t know) alteration, though my favourite is the somewhat smaller corruption of a group of French soldiers from Napoleaonic times which bring to mind the Chapman Brothers defacing (dontcha love mischievously putting those words together) Goya. Given the scale of the pictures, and some are barely 2 inches by 2 inches, this is paste up vandalism on a truely micro scale.
On the streets all Thinkfly’s pigeons had human parts superimposed but Bortusk Leer has flipped the concept in many cases here with humans having animal parts added. Wisely and thankfully, Bortusk keeps the more eroticised images off the streets, looking at the rather gynaecological positioning of a cat’s face between a woman’s thighs doesn’t bring the word “subtle” to mind.
Judith Supine comparisons seem inevitable but this would miss the humour underpinning Bortusk Leer’s work. A smile is what Leer seeks and fun is writ right through his pictures. His rapid rise from a few pigeons on the roadside to a fully fledged show opening in a gallery is infused with an “I can do that” punk spirit.
Good news for fans of the lurid monsters is Bortusk plans to introduce a few of these at the weekend into the gallery. At the rate he manages to whack these up on the street it should be possibly to get several hundred uniques knocked out by Friday.
Turning to his friend, first of all lets get the obvious Hello question out of the way once and for all, Bortusk Leer and Eefos may turn to eachother for friendship and perhaps a look-out when being naughty against a wall, but friendship and an accomplice for art devilment is all it is!
Eefos in contrast to Bortusk Leer has essentially taken her street motif directly into the frame with little modification, which is perfect for the street art purists among us. Using a simple vintage glamour girl image, clad in various coy conservatively revealing outfits and replicated her in multiple rows and rosettes, Eefos’ pictures remind one of a vintage piece of Busby Berkely choreography.
As the girls reach out to each other and brush each other’s thighs there is a nuance of lesbian eroticism, though that could just be my mind. Most of the work presented is available in modest editions of 5. The same cute sweetness of the street paste ups is captured in an un-demanding way on the gallery walls.
Connections matter a lot; Pure Evil, Beejoir and Mau Mau being among the street celebrities spotted tonight. Cojones count too, and having the necessary to decide that they could do it, that they would have fun doing it and that they would take it all the way to a show indicates spirit, though the relative simplicity of what is presented tonight suggests Bonhams won’t be hammering on the door just yet. Get the point, just enjoy!
Viola Gallery – a rather small room!