Lilian Baylis Old School,
London SE11 6PY
7th – 16th Nov 2008
Photos: nolionsinengland and (where stated) Wallkandy
What we love, want and require of street art is that the artist applied some skill and sweat putting up work illegally on street walls. Faile qualifies, mixing permission (Tate Modern Street Art) and non-permissioned stencil street art.
The Faile duo also made a big impact at the Cans Festival in the Summer.
….and have been papering the streets with Glimmering Shadows images around Shoreditch and Smithfield in the build up to this new show.
The location for this Lazarides originated show was a prefab mid 20th century school a million miles from the closest tube station. Past the greeters and bouncers (“You’ve come all this way? In you go”) the setting consisted of two spaces. A lobby area downstairs houses a collection of palettes (circular wooden discs, various sizes between about 2 and 4 feet in diameter), a marble (effect?) Faile Bunny Boy sculpture and a pyramid of Glimmering Shadows Faile boxes. Up the stairs a large hall with raised outer mezzanine level and sunken central floor, think of a large theatre-in-the-round room provides a cathedral-like setting for a collection of 18 epic Faile canvasses and an installation of 14 prayer wheels.
The lobby puts the viewer on immediate notice that the deft touch with the tense and dramatic pop art comic image hasn’t deserted Faile. Both the palettes and the boxes use details from the Faile images shown on the canvasses upstairs. Maybe it’s a trick of the lighting (and there’s no doubt Laz does good staging!) but the boxes look even more lush that their oversize canvas counterparts.
The canvasses upstairs are huge, generally you are going to struggle to hang one over the fireplace. One particular canvass, The Great Leap however is huge on steroids, perhaps it might cover a pair of tennis court service boxes or cover your full size snooker table with plenty to spare
The canvasses are done in a combination of acrylic, stencilled paint on collaged paper with the occasional addition of dirty wash effects (sealing?) and thin swishes of spray paint. They rock the classic Faile torn stripes effect though close inspection suggests that rather than multiple layers shredded to reveal graphic images in the substrata, the technique may involve a single layer of torn stencilled images placed mosaic style onto the canvas.
Update: artist Irony (see here but not the Ben Frost canvasses) has corrected this on a forum, his advice is:
“Although they might look like collaged paper on canvas – they are NOT.The collage effect is attained through a series of silk-screened layers on a single piece of canvas. This is then retouched – painted – by hand. “.
Another input from www.Wallkandy.net forum member onemandown72 is:
“Whilst there we were told that Faile made a small original with all the ripping / tearing etc, then projected said image onto the large canvas, and used this image to then paint a giant replica of the small original, so not screenprinting or collaging, but single layer of acrylic”.
“For years I thought that the FAILE rip was some sort of paste job. But after close examination touching and poking while nobody was looking I discovered that each layer is painted and then painted over again with strategic masking creating a simulated rip. This is canvas and layers of paint, labor intensive…That’s what I am talking about!”
The Glimmering Shadows collection introduces new images which adhere to the tried and tested Faile themes – noble and heroic Indian chiefs, vulnerable scantily clad sylph like squaws, predatory animals and old Faile friends like the Challenger rocket and the rabid wolf. Tension within comic strip imagery is created though a threatening circumstance, a dramatic abbreviated sentence.
Three canvasses are devoid of the comic strip imagery, in one case commenting on the American psyche with a graphic corruption of the American flag and another couple favouring collages text forms to probe at the dichotomy between the cliches of the American freedom and the prohibitions and controls to preserve those freedoms
The prayer wheels are made up from a great collection of fragments of pop graphics, hooker calling card style Faile slogans and classic Faile heritage images, they are stunning to look at and collectively made a great installation, individually they are unusual but awkward novelty sculptures. What photos can’t convey is the texture and mechanics of the prayer wheels. The images are cut like wood blocks that could be used for printing, and the idea of a prayer wheel is that they turn in a spindle, in Tibet monks turn them while humming a mantra and the wheels act like a reservoir of prayer, growing more potent the more they are turned and errrrr..mantra’d over
It is unlikely that Faile could ever make a dull image, they can however make original art on a scale and to a budget which is going to place it way beyond the means of most street art fans, but then isn’t most decent original work. To see such a coherent collection of work on this scale is a rare treat, it is immediately comparable to the hanging of the Seagrams Rothko’s in the Tate at the moment and probably even more epic in presentation. Definitely worth making the trip there, so long as you haven’t given your personal security guard the day off.
Wallkandy certainly knows which part of a camera to point at a painting and you can view his pics here, Nolionsinengland isn’t fit to tie Wallkandy’s shoelaces together but Nolionsinengland’s show photos are here.