Photos: "The Streets of Europe" at Jonathan LeVineJuxtapoz // Tuesday, 04 Dec 2007
Photos and write up by George Koroneos
Sure, Jonathan LeVine Gallery in the Chelsea district of Manhattan has made a name for itself hosting the pop art elite like Shag, Camille Rose Garcia, and Dalek, but the gallery also scours the world searching for the best upcoming and established street and graffiti artists. Last year, the gallery brought over a flock of Brazilian artists for a show. This year, LeVine took to the streets of Europe and invited an ensemble of great artists including Blek le Rat, Blu, Bo130, D*Face, Microbo, and Space Invader.
Each artist's work is stylistically different, and every room in the gallery offers a new piece of eye candy. Blek le Rat, the most visible of the group, designs handmade stencils that he uses about eight to 10 times on the street, and maybe 20 times in the studio. At Friday night's press preview, he told Juxtapoz that far too often, modern artists simply photocopy stencils from existing designs. He meticulously hand cuts everyone one, spending days just on one stencil.
Blu set up a room-filling installation in the gallery's smallest room, a screen against the wall showed different variations of his work. Every crevice of the room was filled with crazy line art and abstract figures. You couldn't tell where the wall began or ended. Bo130 took a more colorful approach, designing a wall of mixed-media faces, diamond-shaped creatures, and dollar bills. Space Invader's most arresting work was a massive installation, depicting the ghosts from Pacman against a color-soaked wall of pixels. The artist was all over the show, but took care to cover himself up when the photogs started snapping shots.
D*Face, also avoided the camera, allowing his series of decomposing celebrities to take center stage. Finally, Microbo created a series of wood panel paintings that are interconnected with wondrous otherworldly figures each painted in eye-pleasing pastels with a heavy use of shading.
The gallery opening was packed, with graffiti artists from all over the world visiting to support their fellow street artists, including London Police and Seen. Fine art collectors clamored around D*Face's stunning portrait of a dead Che Guevara, as children were painting their own graffiti on the gallery floor (in crayon).
The work of Blek le Rat, "Cowboy," against the far wall.