Pure Evil Gallery, London
18 March – 5 April
Superheroes gain un-human powers and infinite energy from all kinds of sources but rarely do they apply them to a good deeds and art combination. 3ttman (Madrid), Grems (Paris via London), Remed (Lille), and Zbiok (Wroclaw) aren’t just the most impossible combination of alpha-numerics to trot off the tongue, they are the latest artists to arrive at the Pure Evil Gallery, summonsed by Daphne Polski to combat the evil Tacoman.
The evil Tacoman has a dastardly plan to destroy every other street artist in the World, the Fantastic 4 have chosen to accept the mission to fighting back on behalf of spraycan users and art punks everywhere. The combat starts with a chase across the rooftops of London.
Tacoman eventually lures them back to his hideout where the Fantastic 4 indulge an orgy of wall cartoon art and …… well, rather than spoil the ending, check out the comic which comes with the show illustrated by the mental pental 4-some. Hardcopy is available from Tacoman’s lair which in your dimensions doubles as Pure Evil’s gallery or download here.
By day, Tacoman turns into comparatively mild mannered Pure Evil, an accidental gallerist whose guiding anti-philosophy might be “no control” and in Daphne Polski he appears to have found a soul sister as curator. Daphne has conceived a theme based around 4 dashing superheroes, though by her own admission “it was just a funny excuse to make them get together because they fit so much together”.
Such prominence as 3TTMan has in the UK will mainly have come from his Bear Gardens building makeover as part of Tate Modern’s 2008 Street Art walking tour.
In this show he presents a cycle of 6 canvasses depicting the stations of the cross, primarily a Catholic cult. Ever the modernist, 3TT has chosen the hardcore more literal progression of the story adopted in 1997 in which the stations are more formally based on the writings in the gospels, rather than the looser more myth embellished version that was followed until John Paul II continued his drive to strip the fun out of religion. 3TT has executed these in his very lurid and anti-classical style combining symbology, cubism’s fragmentation of planes and rough drawn comic-ish characters.
The Stations of the cross are typically displayed in chronological order around a church mosh pit to tell the story of Jesus on the cross to a congregation who couldn’t read but knew to fear an inquisition. 3TTman updates the telling of the story reasoning that people have become familiar and jaded with the old conventional renaissance style of telling the story and developed blind-spots to the powerful story being told. He wants to motivate a re-engagement similar to the kind of interest in religious traditions that afflicts visitors to a foreign country.
In the 4th station, Peter hides in the garden behind a wall where several passers-by accuse him of having knocked around with Jesus, his hands cover his eyes as in one mind he is hiding from his betrayal but in the other knows this is the betrayal and shame Jesus foretold, and as predicted the cock crows three times. That “other mind” comment may seem a bit bizarre but 3TTman often uses multiple heads to represent the spectrum of personalities present in each person, his cartoon alter ego “The Thing” appears in one of the canvasses as a 3 headed brick shitting being (see also the roof battle and the comic).
Super-powers come in many imaginative guises but we shan’t go into the force-of-a-brick-shitter thing.
Remed hangs three gorgeous cubist inspired canvasses conveying the idea of human emotions on the up, a sense of bright positivity with improvements from poor to good or, as in the pair below, from Desire to Fulfilment. In the canvasses Remed blends flat colours into crisply delineated geometric triangles, tubes, eyes and hearts with many of the shapes forming part of more than one feature at the same time. Citing influences such as Picasso, Mattisse, Ferdinand Leger, Basquiat and Carlo Zinelli, Remed uses colour in bold blocks and confident patterns to create sumptuous and fascinating compositions.
Remed and 3TTman go back a long way, in fact to when Remed was 17 and a conviction philistine who believed colouring in was for girl. Drifting around wondering what to select as an additional course element, the 14 year old 3TTman suggested doing a 1 hour a week art lesson. The scales fell from Remed’s eyes when he chanced on a book of Modigliani pictures and for the first time art spoke to him.
Although all four artists knew eachother before, the only example in this show of prior collaboration is Remed and 3TTman’s ambitious re-working of El Bosco’s (Hieronymous Bosch) fifteenth century Ship of Fools. The original fools in the boat included drunken idiots, a priest and a nun beset by food, wine, lust and simplicity. Remed and 3TTman preserve the form of the original painting but update the temptations to a very internet age set of immoralities including lurid sins of the flesh, drugs, greed and errr fast food set in a violent acid drenching of colour
Grems is a fascinating multi talented rapper, DJ, graphic artist and graff monster, which makes the illustraterly cityscape drawings rather disappointing. The landscape s appear semi fictional, you’d know Paris because there is that big mast they have been proud of for a long time but the painting captioned “London” appears to have no recognisable landmarks connecting to our metropolis, other than the common elements of buildings and a river. Indeed, detective work reveals two parallel rivers, as if a river had split and was flowing around an island, wonder where the Paris born artist might have got that from?
Zbiok is known to many as a long standing Pictures On Walls artist (you’ve got to laugh at PoW listing the show as “Zbiok and others”). Zbiok has a background in graffiti and punk, he chooses to create a sense of youth culture and youth interaction in his painting. For him the process is as important as the end result and he professes to enjoying the physical combining of paints and creating of layers. True to this, all three paintings are naive or primitive figurative compositions featuring youths hanging out, smoking, skating and seemingly on the edge of creating trouble.
Giving a bunch of boys alcohol and pens inevitably leads to comedy cock sketching and the collaborative sketches worked up in situ would have benefited from a little less genitalia but the sketches do exhibit the artist’s calligraphic skills. Remed and Grems’s debt to the Brazilian graff form Pixacao stands out.
In summary, Remed eye candy and 3TTman story illustrations brighten a show which will remain in the memory for the fun elements based around the accompanying comic and some mightily impressive rooftop mural work.
More photos of art from the show and the outdoor and indoor walls paintings here