Everything Starts Somewhere
17 Osborn St, London E1 6TD
25th October – 18th November 2018
Break out the bunting, a typopgraphy typhoon has struck London, it’s an Eine exhibition.
Back in 2007 EINE had a solo show at Kemistry Gallery, late of Charlotte Rd, and the power of seeing EINE’s typography migrate indoors from the streets where we were used to seeing them was intense.
EINE’s latest StolenSpace show delivers that visual punch in the eyes again, something that has perhaps not been so apparent in some EINE shows and events in the intervening years.
The show title Everything Starts Somewhere hints at origins, starts and basically East London represents ground zero for Eine’s graffiti.
Scary S (check Graffoto, 2007)
Most of the art is on canvas rendered in tried and trusted Eine colours and fonts. There are however some intriguing new developments, perhaps this is a “somewhere” where something is starting. Most obviously, a huge sculptural 3D letter ‘S’ dominates the second room.
Although they are hanging on a wall, 4 glossy panels making out the word SEXY have the solid tangibility of a sculpture, “carved high density polyurethane” says the label.
In the early years the prints and canvasses to collect were the whole alphabet squares though EINE decided that trying to fit 26 letters into a square format didn’t look right so he famously dropped the letter W. This photo is taken from the 2009 World Record 77 colour screenprint launched under the Nelly Duff imprint. There is no alphabet canvas or print in this latest show but the letter W will come up later.
The Kemistry show was definitely the start of something for Eine. Two sides of the Kemistry Gallery were hung with cement based stencils and the stencil on cement canvas makes an appearance in this latest show.
EINE has also played with geometric patterns applied in matt and gloss to give illusions of varying depths and textures, something he has done before.
“Modern Art” with all its colours and glitter brings to mind a line from the ever quotable Mr Eine in a talk at his Lights Of Soho exhibition in 2017 when he declared street art “Fucks pop art backwards!”
Other than the show blurb mysterious stating that it started with an S, there was not much obvious evidence of where the “somewhere” was that things started, EINE graciously agreed to face a series of naff questions which posed the classic Pulp interrogative “Do you remember the first time?”
Graffoto: Where and when did you first tag?
Eine: I would have been around about the age of 14 and I am now 48 so around 1984, 85, 86 was when I found graffiti.
Graffoto: You’re 48? (“horror” eyebrows hover above forehead)
EINE: I know, it’s a fucking joke, it’s like years and years of drug and alcohol abuse have preserved me, I look younger than my children.
Graffoto: What was your first tag?
EINE: So the letter S was my first ever tag, I destroyed London with that, like literally killed London. So everything started with an S. Everybody else had a tag and if you had a wall full of tags you couldn’t see them or read them. I had a symbol and my symbol would stand out on a wall of tags you couldn’t read, which is why I had this:
I had just been arrested and was on bail for graffiti and, because I am not a complete idiot, whilst I was on bail I wasn’t going to do graffiti. My friend C__, an old graffiti writer from WD, Drax‘ [and friends’] crew, had just stated tattooing so I went round to his house and he tattooed my tag on his arm and that was my first ever tattoo.
Graffoto: When were you first chased by guards or police
EINE: God knows, definitely before I was doing graffiti. The first time I got arrested for graffiti was probably 1989, 90…I had definitely been chased a lot doing graffiti before that and the reason I got into graffiti was I was good at running away and I had a vague interest in art and it seemed like a great hobby. And I couldn’t break dance….
Graffoto: When did you first think it was art rather than graffiti
EINE: When I started doing street art. There was a period when the graffiti I was doing was beautiful but it was illegal and it was on the side of trains, the moment I started doing street art it was something that was productive rather than negative. And that’s the fundamental difference between graffiti and street art, I believe.
Graffoto: When did your first work appear hung on a wall rather than tagged on a wall
EINE: I did a group show with D*Face when he opened up his gallery in Paddington, I was in that. There was probably a couple of things that I was in. It was a fucking long and painful period, I was doing graffiti I had a job, I hated my job, I used to work for Lloyds of London. I left Lloyds of London, I wanted to be creative, I didn’t go to art school, I couldn’t use a computer so I was kind of making teeshirts and selling them in Japan, I was working in a bar, I was working on a building site, I was making stickers and I was making stencils so there was loads of things going on and then it was like suddenly “Oh my God, now I’m an artist – great!”. It was just like walking around Shoreditch when Shoreditch was like a fucking ghost town, with great big poles and sticking up hand made stencil posters on sides of buildings up high, so yeah it was like this really slow process.
When I first started doing this it was like..nobody was buying it but I was making it so I would give it to people cos I was always under the impression that I would rather have my art hanging somewhere than me painting over it. Anyway, we were going to Atlantis (art supplies shop, then in Whitechapel) and stealing everything, so that didn’t bother me…make a painting and give it away. I have always been of the belief that everything you make is a little advert for you so hopefully if you have loads of these little paintings hanging in people’s houses one day someone is going to go “Where did you get that from, I’m going to go and BUY one”. And it kind of worked to some degree. The first paintings I remember selling were from the show at Kemistry which was my first proper show in London. I had definitely done shows before then, group shows and I had definitely sold stuff but that was my first show.
Graffoto: When did you first become a full time artist
EINE: When I left Pictures On Walls. I left Lloyds and I worked on a building site and I worked at the Dragon Bar [seminal Shoreditch hangout for graffiti writers and street artists: RIP] for about 10 years and I haven’t had a job since I left Pictures On Walls..I’m shit with fucking dates but yeah I was still at Pictures On Walls when I had the Kemistry show cos I made all the concrete paintings outside Pictures On Walls [then located where Nobu Shoreditch stands today, had a convenient concrete apron outside] on a Saturday, so for 10 years being an artist has been my only job.
Graffoto: When did you first make a mark abroad?
EINE: The first place I painted abroad was Amsterdam. I had a friend called Dreph, we were in the same crew together, who went to Amsterdam and he came back and said “yo! They stopped buffing the Metros in Amsterdam.” I literally went to my boss and told him “I’m taking 2 weeks holiday”. I had no money just got 2 mates, went to Amsterdam for 2 weeks, we slept in parks, stole everything and spent 2 weeks painting trains, all day and all night and fucked Amsterdam metro [chuckles]. I was still at Lloyds…eighty…… god knows when that was, a long time ago!
Graffoto: When did you do your first sculpture
EINE: Oooooooo – I made some sculptures with Martin Root, the cubes that we showed in Tokyo. They were probably the first sculpture-esquy things I did. I did two sculptures with Flourescent Smog, an E and a W and then I did this massive S at StolenSpace. I would kind of like my street art to become a bit more sculptural and less “painty”. Paint fades, sculptures stand the test of time. And it’s about doing other things.
Graffoto: Why did it start with the letter S?
EINE: So, for quite a while I’ve wanted to do a sculpture and to me S is the sexiest letter, it’s one of the more challenging letters and if you get it right it just goes “ahhhhhhh”. So I had the opportunity to make a big letter sculpture for this show so decision was to do the letter S. And the gallery is called StolenSpace
Graffoto: When did you design your first piece of clothing?
EINE: When I started to break away from graffiti I was doing stickers and hand made posters and flyposting posters around Shoreditch and this Japanese dude saw my posters and he was like “Do you want to do some of those on teeshirts?” and I was like “Sweet!”.
I was a kid in London, I was always going out to nightclubs, I was interested in fashion, I like clothes you know, representing something, I like the way you can dress in a certain look and portray a certain attitude or image, I like fucking with people’s stereotypes, you know face tattoos and dressed like a skinhead and you’re the first person to give up your seat on the tube!
Graffoto: When did you first design a handbag?
EINE: I have never designed a handbag [chuckles], I was approached by a posh handbag lady called Anya Hindmarch, she had done a tote bag and on the front it said “I’m not a plastic bag” and it fucking blew up and went mental for her. Then the next time she wanted to redesign the tote bag she approached me and I did 4 different designs for her. Anya Hindmarch was very good friends with…Samantha Cameron.. [this led to Prime Minster David Cameron giving Obahma an Eine canvas as a pressie, Graffoto scooped the world on that story back in 2010, covered in detail HERE]
TWENTYFIRSTCENTURYCITY (photo nicked from Eine’s website)
I painted the outside of Anya Hindmarch’s windows to launch the bag.
Graffoto: When did you design your first bunting?
EINE: [chuckles] I haven’t! At StolenSpace you walk into the backspace of the gallery and its beautiful and it has these fucking beams and it has this crazy roof but every show that you have ever been to at StolenSpace always looks exactly the same, nobody ever does anything with the roof and I was like “Let’s get some bunting made, find someone that makes bunting”. So they sent me over the graphics for the bunting and I’m like “I’ll just stick a letter on all of it”, they said “what colours?” and I’m like “choose the colours from the canvas”.
I was so close to fucking the W off, just cos I started designing the letters to go on the bunting and my letters were all like circular and spinning round, rotating to fit them on and I was going to sack the W, W is THE most annoying letter in the world but the graphic designer managed to do it, it works, they did a better job than I would have done.
You know, either you get a load of helium filled balloons and I think Fanakapan has nailed that or, now, I’ve got the bunting, no one else can do bunting!
Graffoto: What was your first gig?
EINE: The first gig I can remember, definitely not my first gig, would have been the Town and Country Club (now The Forum, Kentish Town) with The Beastie Boys with License To Ill. Me and my friend Michael were huge Beastie Boy fans, every time Beastie Boys played in London we’d get tickets to see them twice, cos we’d get so fucked one night like literally, in the queue going up to Brixton Academy double tying our shoelaces cos we are crowd surfing at Beastie Boys. Me and my friend Michael we did every Beastie Boy album whole car top to bottom on the side of trains, photos no one has ever ever seen. Yeah, we were massive Beastie Boy fans, then Wu Tang, then blah blah blah.
Graffoto: (Its a rule, when ” Blah blah blah” starts, the interview has run its course!!) “Cheers and thanks”
To summarize, this show recaptures some of the raw and brutal impact which familiarity with EINE’s studio art may have lessened in recent years. Some shows roll out mere evolution but the sculptural developments suggest a possibility of revolution, definitely this show marks a progression. Don’t miss, runs till 18th.
For shits ‘n giggles Graffoto focussed on the letter S in the photos in this post, here are some of the full canvasses the S details were lifted from.