Rae – Nocturnal Trips

Signal Gallery
Paul St, London
25 Jan – 16 Feb 2013

Photos: NoLionsInEngland except Brooklynite Gallery where stated

This week I had the pleasure of showing Hraq Vartigan, co-founder and editor of Hyperallergic the state of play in Shoreditch’s art. I re-learnt an awful lot myself in the process, not least of which was how enriched our walls are by the work of distinguished foreign visitors. The latest overseas artist to add international colourful and flavour to our grimy east end state is NY’s Rae, over for his first solo London show at Signal Gallery.

Rae, NY, photo by: Brooklynite Gallery

Examination of various flickr feeds reveals a prodigious talent for quirky and ramshackle sculptural assemblages pinned to poles, walls and other street furniture. Chaotic combination of found objects are fixed together to create madcap boxy characters, in RAEs world no material combination or colour clash is off limits. Thus far his contribution to the colour of London’s scenery has been limited to paste-ups. Good friend Hookedblog surmises that to prepare his street work requires a few days scouring the streets for objects and raw materials which he hasn’t had time for since arrival to prepare for the show. Personally I can’t see why a travelling international artist can’t rely on his gallerists for a few weeks advanced dumpster diving 😉

Rae, NY, photo by: Brooklynite Gallery

RAE wears his NY influences quite openly, one composition tips its hat to Faile’s dog, the angular arms and indeed intestinal tracts of the characters nod to Skewville and a huge flamboyant swirling waft of the cloak lays at the feet of Basquiat. Dude’s from NY, so why not. To be fair, rumour has it that Rae is a hugely significant figure on the NY street art and gallery scene beyond just his artistic involvement.

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Love Your Bus Driver

The characters are energetic, slightly naive and flat. They cavort and distort in a way that encourages long pleasurable moments disentangling what might actually be happening in the canvas. The chopped up faces with their bent noses and flattened mouths may suggest a tribal cubism with dots.

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Outline characters which bring to mind nothing more than the NY subway chalk on black paper graffiti of Keith Haring are tiled in many of Rea’s prints and canvases. A cluster of them sneak into his version of The Green Lady, aptly if not jauntily titled Tertchikoff Rip Off, as if we might not notice the Haring-esque interlopers.

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Tertchikoff Rip Off

A couple feature a beaten copper border which lend the paintings some kind of iconostasis effect. Rae’s handiness with a bit of sculptural metal on canvas is echoed several other pieces such as this NY Gossip. Is that bucket-helmet echoing the get-my-tin-hat “I’m going to say this just to provoke you” chatroom staple?

NY Gossip
NY Gossip

The big picture is that Rae’s work looks beautiful. Discussing Rae’s visual DNA leads to many quality names being dropped, think Basquiat with fewer words and you have the essence of his appeal. Maybe next time, someone can chuck Rae in a gallery with the contents of a rag-and-bone man’s cart, close the doors for a week and say “install the shit out of that!”

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For Your Consideration

More pics in a Flickr photoset here

Signal Gallery

Brooklynite Gallery

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