WK Interact hails from France but is based in New York and has about 20 years of street art practise under his belt. No surprise then that, unlike a certain relay team [this was written a day or two after the US relay team played some version of pooh sticks], practise pays off in a gorgeous display of moody, tense and dark street art. WK Interact has a strong pedigree as an artist getting up on the streets, he estimates his puts out about 75% illegal street work and comparatively limited amount of studio work, apparently this show represented close to a year’s output according to someone who just made that up.
Walk in the door and straight away, like a javelin between the eyes, “Caution”, the first comparatively small piece prods you awake and presses home this is a special collection of work. Using collaged elements of wood, photographs and painted figures, this builds around warning/danger signs, a common fragment of New York street life.
The next piece, a big big landscape board with lots more wood nailed on, introduces the familiar vibrant dynamic fast moving balaclaved terrorist figures with the added bonus of a Clark Kent look-a-like having his neck broken.
Many pieces are set on background collage of period American photos that bring to mind a 1960s ideal of a future-tech life, the optimism of race into space technology development, white shirted scientists with brylcreemed hair and retro/kitch American autos. Of course no genre respecting artist is going to omit the obligatory “found” elements, crude pieces of short chipped and worn strips of wood are daubed and nailed on. All of this forming a context for the customary dynamic speed marked villains.
WK Interact presents these athletic and sinister figures in scenes that speak of the streets. Common elements through the work include cut-away exploded engineering diagrams representing real “proper job” activities, skulls, bar codes and numbers indicating the digitisation not of society but each individual – we are all becoming numbers, stand up and let us be counted.
What you can’t see from the photos is the texture of the surfaces, the relief of the layers and the number of heavy, almost dangerous objects incorporated in the composition. A red fire bell signifies the warning signs people should have detected prior to JFK’s assassination, a rabbit trap invites you to stick your fingers in, a high voltage regulator demands you turn things to HIGH on “Voltage On or Off”.
The artist who illustrates the dynamic of his work by tapping it, rubbing it and drumming it is a rare beast, WK Interact sees the added objects as invitation to the viewer to touch and tweak, though no one was particularly keen on the gin trap.
It would be cool to say that whilst WK Interact’s work, replete with masked terrorists and fraught with undercurrents of tension represented the opposite side of the coin from Lister’s colourful superheroes on white canvas, WK Interact’s view was that Lister’s figures portray a seedier more sexual evil view of life.
To avoid doubt, neither the pieces on show nor his street wheatpastes are based upon stencil techniques. So there, a real artist. Elements of the collage seemed to touch on the paste on and tear way Faile method. Gimme deep sinister symbolism over cartoon pop art Lichenstein homages any day.
Eye grazing in front of individual works yields an appreciation of the depth of the work, there’s a lot of meaning to be excavated from the movements and moments in each picture, this is much more than instantly gratifying eye candy. People there were saying “oh yeah, his work has really moved on”, which is an odd way to view a show which didn’t include a single peep-hole corset.