22 Wellington Street, London,
The setting consists of a small white walled space at street level, walls maxed out with the familiar flesh tones of characteristic Herakut canvasses, while the basement becomes a sort of Dickensian upstairs-downstairs kind of maid’s parlour taking the theme of the show’s title, which itself is a title of one of the canvasses. On show are paintings by Herakut, sketches by Hera and installation elements.
Herakut is the blended word identity of the two artists Hera and Akut, and the first lesson in the increasing difficult game of spotting the artist the Herakut template is to notice the photorealistic finish imparted by Akut to eyes, lips, and the more honey skinned flesh. Hera is behind the more dramatic and flowing figurative touches and the pasty monochromatic skin not to mention the surreal blending of humans and animals as well as the slightly bizarre written statements.
At last year’s well received London show “Permission To Paint”, a piece which continues to resonate was called God Loves Ugly, this confidence boosting statement reflects Hera’s ugly ducking syndrome and is key to understanding the sentiment behind a number of the works in the Dirty Laundry show.
Rapacious wolves, rat faces and bunny masks are common through the many of the pieces, and it is a signature characteristic of Herakut that there is an element of melancholy in the sad eyed juvenile faces protruding under the masks. A sexual metaphor is evident in many of the Herakut paintings, none more so than in those pieces featuring a wolf about to dine upon a poor hapless naked victim. Hera highlights the malevolent influence of sex as a root cause of abuse.
One motif that repeats is several forms is a sad girl bearing a monkey on her back but this monkey has passed away (it is a dead monkey, it has ceased to be). As a linguistic gambit the “monkey on the back” usually refers to a burden to be shifted by making it someone else’s problem. Herakut’s title suggests that perhaps the concept relates to existence and mortality. As usual of course, this could be complete rubbish, it’s just a guess.
The sketches tucked under the stairs are produced by Hera working on her own, signed under her hand only. Having been trained in the basic tools of art it is no surprise that Hera is capable of these vignettes, finely drawn with incredible economy of line. This illustrates a characteristic of Heras’s art in which her characters have twig like legs and no grounding, capturing a ballerina’s sense of almost weightless floating. Saves addressing the issue of feet which would be handy, guessing here, if your feet weren’t your favourite part of your body.
While “Mom” does her laundry (it is hard to reconcile the Americanism with such an English set-up), Dad seeks respite from the clinical whiteness of the upstairs area to sink into a deep leather chair next to the fire in a homely though slightly distressed chill out zone.
All the work at this show is effectively pre-sold, and is displayed as a collection, each picture being en route to its final lucky owner. With no direct return on the expense of staging this show, Campbarbossa deserves big props for putting on this show.
Whether your preference is for the richness, drips and intrigue of the canvasses or the sparse cleanliness of the sketches it is a pure joy to be able to see the set of works collected together and showcasing one of the strongest talents emerging from the street art scene today. However, if anyone at the show whispers in your ear “that one is mine”, don’t spare their feelings, apply your cricket bat to maximum effect.
A full set of pictures can be seen here though as usual, the low light in some areas challenges the camera (nothing to do with the photographer of course).
In the build up to this show Herakut were generous in their granting time for some conversation, hopefully sometime soon, who knows when – who knows where, there will be a chance to report the fruits of those interviews, you will be the first to know.