BSMT Space, Dalston
15 October – 1 November 2020
In an urban landscape where portrait street painters are overwhelmingly drawn to either the technical proficiency of photorealism or its diametric opposite cartoonery, ALO’s expressionist fisogs stand out!
His street art career started with small paste ups in 2011 and bar a brief flirtation with Paris ALO has lived in London and consistently decorated our streets ever since.
ALO paints on the streets in acrylics and markers rather than spraypaint, making his approach rather different to most street artists. Of necessity he has to make repeated returns to a spot to apply successive different coloured layers which when a street artist is painting without permission, most of the time for ALO, requires nerves of steel and a detached immersion in the act.
ALO: Untitled, permission piece, Dalston 2020
In his latest solo show characters are dressed in patchwork garments with way more colour than previous exhibitions. Paintings influenced by African and Moroccan women stand out. Also, Klimt has clearly been a significant influence on the latest work.
ALO: Brick Lane 2020
ALO: Profile Of An African Woman In Paris
ALO’s characters don’t all engage us with a stare, but they say the eyes are the window into the soul and the direct stares of many of the faces are a thing of beauty.
A night time city landscape is the first completely non-figurative piece I recall seeing from ALO. In the lower half of the painting London glitters with lit windows in buildings recalling the colour quilting of his African ladies in the lower half of the painting, overhead a starry night sky sprinkles headache inducing noisy starlight on the city.
ALO: East End
An ALO character conveys all you need to know through the accessories and the detail. A hair band, a hat, the drip of a tear or more directly, a descriptive word block provide clues as to a subject’s style, location or state of mind. There is less embedded text in the paintings in this exhibition but the characters are no less evocative.
ALO: Tip Oil Suonatore Jones
Delving into an ALO painting to ferret out what is happening is fun. With bombs dropping from the sky and the title “Drone”, one painting had me momentarily thinking the character was using some kind of hand controller to deal death remotely; stepping back for further contemplation it became apparent that the character was a mother cradling her baby.
Unfortunately this gallery visit was delayed until just a couple of days before the show closed but hopefully you get a sense here of the awesome ALO show the champions of the urban art world BSMT Gallery have staged.
Grace – show book, foreground
ALO: The Piper
BSMT Space website
ALO 2015 Show Hail To The Loser
All photos: Dave Stuart