Cartoonneros and Pure Evil
Pure Evil Gallery
Thursday 25th January – one night only
In 2008, people with no discernible creative talent were invited by Banksy to Cans Festival to make some spray paint art. I don’t think have picked up a spray can since. Oh, to avoid doubt, Banksy also thought to invite some pretty awesome artists and for some of them Cans Festival proved to be a career launch pad (Hello Vhils & that French guy).
Tonight the Pure Evil Gallery rocked to the sound of Pure Evil DJing (nothing by The Fall while I was there) and stencilled art supervised by Argentinian street artist Cartoonneros.
Now, a few weeks ago while most of you were wondering why mince pies counted double on your waistline I came across a building site hoarding with a fresh collection of stencilled portraits and being of a man of respectable vintage with impeccable musical taste I could see that the image represented none other than the lead singer of Radiohead, Thom Yorke.
Cartoonneros, underlying background by King Headswim
The memorable thing about this collection was that in going over existing artwork, the underlying naïve expressionist portrait with its compelling blue eyes radiated through Cartnoonneros’ work in a way not visible to the naked eye.
Around the corner were more multi coloured stencilled portraits, similarly executed over someone else’s existing artwork as opposed to a prepared background. Instantly recognisable in the middle was David Bowie, on the right Syd Barrett I had no clue about, let’s be honest Pink Floyd never sold themselves on their looks, and I am embarrassed to admit the Dalai Lama on the left turned out to be Keith Haring.
A day later I had the pleasure of bumping into Cartoonneros on the streets whipping up some more rapido stencils, this time the images included Vincent Van Gogh and Kate Moss.
Cartoonneros explained that he usually employed three stencilled layers in his street art portraits but that he would often spray different colours in different parts of the stencil, meaning that a single layer could be used to render multiple colours. In this next photo you can actually see the three different stencil layers used for the Van Gogh portrait are in position and each card bears the spraypainted remnants of the various colours from previous uses of the stencil.
Cartoonneros’ stencils possess the absolute essence of street art functionality: speed and repeated use.
Cartoonneros is also a master sticker maker, I had found several of his quite small stickers lurking in alleyways and I was quite bowled over when I bumped into him that he kindly gave me a few.
Cartoonneros then nipped to Amsterdam, Paris and Berlin to spread his magic but the lure of Shoreditch was too great and he returned tonight to co-host “Wordplay” with Pure Evil, an evening of art and music. The simple idea was all were welcome to spray stencilled words over a background pre- sprayed by Cartoonneros with a collection of multicoloured stencilled turtle and Keith Haring images.
The stencilled words were machine cut into plastic sheets making them pretty durable and you could spray any colour you liked so long as it was close to the ultraviolet end of the visible spectrum.
The words were robust and expressive: vagina, penis, man, woman, love, fuck, addict; words that some who fail to see the context might even regard as naughty. I had a few goes. Man Dignity? Utterly meaningless. Perhaps something that Trump might splutter. That one attempt though was all it took to convince me I owned the multi coloured blended spraypaint stencil thing.
Who doesn’t love Keith Haring? Another red/blue blend, on a roll here.
Here is a little clip of the master Pure Evil, I shouldn’t really comment on this but notice his failure to overspray onto the huge expanses of negative space around the stencil 😉 [insert shrug emoji when Blogger gets hip with that kind of thing in a few years]
This is a step by step guide to the transition of a complete newbie to a master under the watchful gaze of Cartoonneros:
Step 1: pick stencils, happily a proper artist has already done the hard bit, cutting the stencil.
Step 2: Spray a bit of pink down one side
Step 3: a bit of red down the other
Step 4: a bit of blue up the middles, some red lines through the centre and hey presto, a masterpiece!
One of the charms of the stencil is the manner in which chance comes into play with rendition of the stencil subtly different to the last with variations of speed and density of spray. Or perhaps it is just schoolboy errors like spraying your stencilled piled one on top of the other.
Combine naughty minds and naughty words, add in some free French beer and soon the art becomes a little less philosophical and a bit more terrace based.
Many years ago, alcohol steeped reviews of opening nights at the Pure Evil gallery were staple of Graffoto’s musings. Tonight’s “happening” was quintessential old school Pure Evil in that it involved an overseas artist with a street art pedigree previously virtually unknown on these shores who pops out of Pure Evil’s little black book of contacts to exhibit in the gallery whilst also creating a bit of beautiful mayhem on the streets. Like it’s still 2007!