Sweet Toof solo shows are as rare as hen’s teef. There was the curious basement outing at Kings Cross, London in 2008 followed last year by shows in quick succession at Arch 402 in London and the “Dark Horse” show at Factory Fresh in New York. This comparatively low rate of gallery bothering allows Sweet Toof to provide dental hygiene care to some stunning pieces on outside walls like these seen recently in London.
In a warehouse space barely the width of a beaming smile from the Olympic Park on the other side of Regents Canal, High Rollers Society staged this collection combining a retrospective of older works including some from the New York show previously unseen in this country with a small number of new pieces. The first impression looking into this cavity was the scale of the enterprise. Paintings, prints, wall pieces, sculptures not to mention some very impressive breakdancing in the middle made great visual candy .
Sweet Toof’s reputation has been built on the huge number of friendly gummy grins on walls, rooftops and toilet cisterns all over East London for more than a decade and Sweet Toof brings the spirit of that furtive art indoors spraying murals directly onto the gallery walls, fixtures and fittings.
Looking at the new works, this magnificent new 2.5m wide 1m high canvas contains signature Sweet Toof magic ingredients that make his work so appealing, this work-in-progress shows he knows still how to hit that sweet spot.
There are intriguing elements from real life in the painting, the building with the SWEET HANGOVER on the parapet looks very much like the building whose rooftop was weatherproofed with an epic collaboration with PINS (video here). The leanover may represent a blue print for idea which sadly now is unlikely to be realised as a block of apartments and retail boxes has since been built feet from that building. The architectural landscape includes some distinctly New York elements such as the water tower. Sweet Toof also checks some artists with whom he is known to have painted in London including PINS (UK), SMELLS (NY), Mobstr (UK), TEK33 (BC) and Monkey (BC).
Also new are two minatures in the same style as a series which appeared at Nell Duff gallery a few years ago. They are like rococo Sweet Toof affordable original canvasses.
Above photos: DaveShocko
The last new works as far as Graffoto is aware are both called Lovers. The regency attired skeletal couple crackle with a conspiratorial affection, they are definitely comrades in arms for some no good fun.
The Factory Fresh show last year included several works that had been seen at Arch 402 in London but the pieces on show tonight that haven’t been seen before in a London show confirm that NY got a classic Sweet Toof show.
The great thing about a retrospective is the chance to see work from shows you missed. “Stand and Deliver” and “Your Money Or Your Life” is more than an Adam Ant lyric, it’s a before and after pair of paintings in which the dandy highwaymen bite off more than they chew when the victims fight back. The highway men should have read the signs, the passengers have swashbuckling toofy grins too. These were shown at the Burning Candy crew show “Candy Shop” in 2010, also put on by High Roller Society.
At the two UK solo shows there have always been sculptural pieces present. Sweet Toof enjoys applying teef and gums to almost anything where the result is a comic disfigurement of the object. 3D pieces aplenty have been assembled for this collection, including the “Vagina Dentata” whose name ensures its continual presence since 2008 in the upper region of “most viewed” photos on my flickr account.
One of my favourite paintings is Battle Of The buff, an irreverent taunting at the futility of the constant sanitising of areas where colourful wall art is one of the few redeeming features of the area. The vibrant colour and cheekiness in the skeletal expressions balances out the dark and macabre “day of the dead” element present in a lot of Sweet Toof canvasses. Super nice to see the original of this.
A strong Sweet Toof image is about a lot more than just the teeth and pink gums. There’s the vivid colour choices, the swagger of the characters, the almost vaudeville villain attitude of the subjects and the sheer relish they display in committing petty crimes generally involving paint. In the hands of the characters, paint becomes a weapon while walls, rooftops and the great outdoors are the battleground, and the teef and gums are insouciant leers.
The show runs thick with colour and humour, the collection of so many favourite works in one spot is great for the old fan and hopefully an eye opener for new visitors who may not be aware that street artists have talent. As the show is located at the heart of a parish noted for some of Sweet Toof’s finest naughty moments, any visitor can double up the visual delights indoors with the sight of some fantastic Sweet Toof rooftop works as far as the eye can see in almost any direction.
UPDATE: CHeck out the High Roller’s Grin Gang wall of shame ; and it’d be crazy not to add these flicks to the blog