Beyond the Streets London
17 February – 9 May 2023
Unveiled in February, Beyond the Streets London, supported by Adidas Originals, presents a resplendent display of over 100 international artists’ creations, ranging from audacious train writers to esteemed large-scale muralists. This unparalleled exhibition, which encompasses all three floors of the renowned Saatchi Gallery in London, is the most comprehensive assemblage of graffiti and street art ever exhibited in the UK.
Following successful exhibitions in Los Angeles and New York, Beyond the Streets London features fresh pieces, grand installations, treasured ephemera, and remarkable fashion that encapsulate the potent impact of graffiti and street art worldwide. Curated by esteemed graffiti historian Roger Gastman, this exhibition delves into the intrinsic human desire for public self-expression, accentuating artists who have emerged from the graffiti and street art milieu and evolved into disciplined studio practitioners, as well as pivotal cultural figures inspired by this vibrant art scene.
The exhibition has been divided into ten chapters. Each chapter explores exceptional moments in the history of this artistic movement, including the emergence of punk, the genesis of hip-hop, and the undeniable influence of street culture on fashion and film.
In the first chapter, Music & Art Converge, visitors will explore the socio-political unrest of the late 70s and 80s that led to artistic resistance in the US and UK. This period saw youth culture expressing their identity through graffiti as a response to oppression and a bleak economic outlook. The chapter connects London and New York through works by FUTURA2000, Malcolm McLaren, MODE2, and Martha Cooper, and features an interactive installation of a recreated record shop, Trash Records.
Dream Galleries is the second chapter, highlighting American and European pioneers, photo documentarians, and cultural icons who played a pivotal role in establishing and propagating graffiti culture globally. André Saraiva’s Dream series visually showcases the development and fusion of graffiti, street art, hip-hop, punk, fashion, and break-dancing from the late 1970s to the present. Featured artists include Mister CARTOON, known for his tattoos and LA murals; a unique Beastie Boys installation displaying fashion and ephemera; and LADY PINK’s feminist murals, illustrations, and paintings.
The Legends chapter showcases iconic artists like NYC’s Eric HAZE, José Parlá’s new large-scale painting, advertisement posters by KAWS, and unique ephemera by 1980s street artist Keith Haring.
The Blockbusters, which is the fourth chapter, features works specifically commissioned for the exhibition by graffiti pioneers Shepard Fairey and FAILE.
The Larger Than Life chapter features a large-scale installation by Kenny Scharf, showcasing the immersive Cosmic Cavern with Day-Glo paintings and reused materials. It also includes Paul Insect’s signature puppet characters made from recycled materials, highlighting London’s street art pioneers.
Timeline delves into street culture history, exploring the intersections of music, fashion, and film, and features a large wall vinyl by feminist collective Guerrilla Girls, acknowledging the male-dominated nature of street and contemporary art.
The closing chapters consist of Social Commentary: Graffiti as a message, Art with Conscience, and Consideration Into Innovation, featuring artists Fab 5 Freddy, VHILS and many more.
In the final chapter, The Next Phase, visitors will engage with new op-art works by Felipe Pantone, whose high-contrast, geometric patterns create a unique aesthetic of the digital age.
“With every exhibition we’ve put together I always learn something new and London is no exception. The amount of stories and historical moments–some of which may have been forgotten and arguably unknown until now–are what will make our Saatchi Gallery show such a spectacle. We really hope to educate and inspire through a curious lens that digs into the nooks and crannies of all these subcultures and the massive role London played in bringing them to light on a world stage.”
–Curator, Roger Gastman
Every corner of the Saatchi Gallery has been transformed, immersing visitors in artworks and ephemera displayed throughout hallways, tunnels, and staircases. Additionally, visitors will explore rooms that reveal the birth of graffiti in a way never seen before.
Interview with Evan Pricco—-Constant Conversation between Street and Gallery
Without a doubt, the scale and refinement of the exhibition’s works are awe-inspiring, and the diversity and brilliant colors are dazzling. After experiencing a “visual and auditory bombardment,” we were fortunate to interview the co-curator, Evan Pricco, also the editor-in-chief of Juxtapoz magazine. He led us to delve deeper into the details of this exhibition from his perspective.
AZ: What inspired the concept behind Beyond the Streets London, and how does it differ from previous exhibitions in LA and New York?
EP: I think London was the natural progression of where the show should go because London has played such a prominent role in the history of not only graffiti and street art but also music, fashion, documentaries, and films. All sorts of things have made London a natural extension from Los Angeles to New York. There had been such a great conversation between the artists from New York and London in the late 70s and early 80s. So it just made a really natural move from New York to London next, you know, where we were playing the shows up.
AZ: How does this exhibition stand out as the most comprehensive? What is its position in the historical narrative of street culture?
EP: This particular show is really trying to show how much the expression and the freedom of graffiti and street art inspired music, design, and fashion, how it wasn’t just about writing on walls. It was the spirit of it that would extend out into different kinds of creative endeavors. For this particular show, we really wanted to focus on the convergence of music and graffiti, through not only conversations about punk and hip hop but also rave flyers. All these kinds of genres came together and when they came together, it sparked something completely new and fresh. That’s kind of what we see here is these collisions and how they make all sorts of new art out of it.
AZ: Street culture has developed into so many forms, is there one word that can join all these forms together? What connects them all?
EP: I think it’s freedom. I think it’s the idea of not being told what to do and being able to write your name on a wall if someone tells you ‘you’re not allowed to’. I think it’s also just about the idea of expression being something that everybody has, and that if you approach art in a way that’s not necessarily art school, something really magical can happen. I think that a lot of these people have changed the way we look at art because they came from it in a way that is more untrained but also very professional, really beautiful and very expressive.
AZ: How did you select the artists?
EP: When dealing with something that is 50 years old, like the graffiti movement, the show expands and spans 50 years. You can’t include everybody, but what you want to do is to have great representations of all these different parts and all the different parts of the history. So we selected artists by kind of looking at some of the prominent names of the movement, prominent bands of the time or the era and into now, to look at who influenced them and how the baton is passed from generation to generation.
From past shows, we’ve had a lot of artists who were here again, and then we were allowed to bring new artists because graffiti keeps growing. It’s not just 1970 to 1990 and it ended. It keeps going so it’s all about who’s speaking to who and how all these artists are talking to each other through the generations.
AZ: Do you foresee or have had any controversial issues by including the more hardcore elements of graffiti?
EP: No, because that’s part of it. Every artist in this show did graffiti on the street and had to make a decision for themselves, like ‘how do I show my work in a gallery?’ Even for the more controversial artists who are in the show, perhaps they are going to think now, ‘I want to show work in a gallery’, ‘I want to learn how to do that’, or ‘I want to start showing my work in a different way’. So every artist in the show has had that moment in their life, ‘I want to do graffiti, but I want to show gallery work now’. So I think that part of the history is really important; everybody has that kind of question for themselves. So we haven’t had any problems with that at all. Actually, it’s been really refreshing and fun to work in that way because everybody is excited to be here. So even the controversial stuff is really exciting to show it to people in a new way.
AZ: What narrative or message does Beyond the Streets London want to convey, particularly for those who are unfamiliar with street culture?
EP: That’s a great question. I think what we want to show to people and what we want people to take away from this show is that there is so much that came from graffiti and has expanded in so many different ways, and it’s still happening. We want to make sure that everyone walks away knowing that the stuff they see on the street is still growing. There are stories behind the work. It’s not just anonymous all the time, there are people behind it. So that’s one of the main things we really want to show to people: it’s still a growing thing and it’s still something that influences the way we look at the world.
AZ: We can feel it from the presentation. It is very vivid. There are so many interesting works in one room. What is the logic of curation to organize those 13 rooms?
EP: We broke it down into certain categories. This room in particular is all about a little bit more play in pop art and how that history of pop art played a role in the way graffiti artists were thinking about making their artwork. And there’s another room particularly about new innovations in how people use spray paint. There’s a certain room all about the move from street art to studio. So we kind of broke it down in ways. You don’t have to necessarily look at it that way, but we also have explanations for why we have it in certain ways. We really just wanted to move you through the history room by room.
AZ: What impact do you hope Beyond The Streets London will have in today’s art world?
EP: Well, I think this is actually a really good time to mention that we will be doing a Beyond the Streets Shanghai show later this year. So that’s one of the things that we hope that people get from this shows that there is more to come. More and more people are becoming artists and artists are becoming more and more famous like Shepard Fairey, Takashi Murakami and KAWS. They become bigger names. I think we just want to reiterate to people that there is a whole movement still happening and growing. There’s so many of these artists that you might have seen on the street that are making studio work. It’s unconventional and that is what is really special about it. So I hope that kind of impact is that the contemporary art world can be and be unconventional still.
AZ: How has Adidas been involved in this exhibition?
EP: It’s a natural connection because Adidas was basically the uniform for so many hip hop and graffiti artists in the 80s. It was quite easy because, you know, if you go to the top floor, you see all the kinds of Adidas clothing that has been worn throughout the years by famous people. It was the uniform. So that uniform, people started to identify themselves by, ‘if you wear an Adidas track jacket, you were part of the culture’. I think it’s just kind of a cool thing that just showed that Adidas has been with it since the beginning. It’s always been really natural. It’s the clothing everyone wore, and still wears.
AZ: Are there any difficulties when you’re curating the show?
EP: I think the difficulty is making sure that the artist feels like their voice is being heard and that their desires of what they want to show as being kind of shown, but also put them in the right context. So they’re part of the array, where they feel most comfortable. The only difficulty when you’re doing an international show is getting it all together and bringing it all in one place. But we’ve been really lucky with Beyond the Streets that all of us who are the curators have been doing this for 20 years. So we have great relationships with everybody. I think the only difficulty is making sure we include as many people as possible. We try to tell as many stories as possible, while all staying within the same story which is graffiti, that’s the difficulty.
AZ: Are there any work in the exhibition you would like to highlight?
EP: I really want to show this one, Domestic Wild (2022) by the Spanish artists ESCIF. I think this particular piece is what this whole show is about. It’s the wild animal, looking at its place on a white wall. It’s like the freedom of expression on the street, going back to the gallery, the gallery looking back at it and this constant conversation is happening all the time. It’s a conversation between the two and that’s what this whole show is about. That’s why graffiti is not over yet. That’s why we got 50 years of it and keeps going. So I think this is the perfect piece for the show.
在第一章《音樂與藝術交融》中，參觀者將探索20世紀70年代末至80年代的社會政治動盪，這一動盪在美國和英國引起了藝術抵抗。在這個時期，年輕人通過塗鴉來表達自己的身份，以應對壓迫和黯淡的經濟前景。本章通過李奧納·希爾頓·麥格（FUTURA2000）、馬康·麥拉林（Malcolm McLaren）、MODE2和瑪莎·庫珀（Martha Cooper）的作品將倫敦和紐約聯繫起來，並展示了唱片商店“垃圾唱片（Trash Records）”的互動裝置。
《夢幻畫廊》是第二章，重點介紹了在全球範圍內建立和傳播塗鴉文化方面起到關鍵作用的先驅者、攝影紀實家和文化偶像。安德列·薩拉華（André Saraiva）的《夢幻》系列從視覺上展示了從20世紀70年代末至今，塗鴉、街頭藝術、嘻哈、朋克、時尚和霹靂舞的發展與融合。這一章還展示了因其紋身和洛杉磯壁畫而聞名的卡通先生（Mister CARTOON），展示野獸男孩（Beastie Boys）時尚和蜉蝣藝術的特別裝置，以及粉紅女神（LADY PINK）的女權主義壁畫、插畫和繪畫。
《傳奇》章節展示了塗鴉藝術史上標誌性的藝術家作品，如來自紐約的艾瑞克·荷茲（Eric HAZE）、約瑟·帕拉（José Parlá）的大型繪畫、KAWS的廣告海報以及20世紀80年代街頭藝術家凱斯·哈林（ Keith Haring）的蜉蝣藝術。
《超群不凡》章節展示了肯尼·沙夫（Kenny Scharf）的大型裝置，一個沉浸式的宇宙洞穴，其中包含熒光漆畫和再利用材料。此外，該章節還還展示了藝術家保羅·因賽克特（Paul Insect）的標誌性木偶角色，凸顯倫敦街頭藝術先驅。
最後幾章包括《社會評論：塗鴉作為信息》、《藝術與良知》和《創新思考》，其中涵蓋了藝術家妙手佛迪（Fab 5 Freddy）、亞歷山大·法圖 （VHILS）等眾多人物。
EP：我認為是自由。 我認為這是關於“不需要被別人告知該做什麼”的想法。儘管有人告訴你“這是不被允許的”，但你依然在牆上寫下你的名字。我認為這也是關於“每個人都擁有表達權”的想法，如果你以一種非藝術院校的方式對待藝術，一些真正神奇的事情就會發生。 我認為本次參展藝術家中的很多人改變了我們看待藝術的方式，因為他們以一種未經訓練但又非常專業、非常美麗且非常有表現力的方式來自創作藝術。
EP：我真的很想展示這件西班牙藝術家ESCIF的作品 《家養野生（Domestic Wild）》。我認為這件特別的作品呼應了整個展覽的主題。這是一隻野生動物，看著它身上的圖案作為作品掛在白牆上。這就好比街頭的自由藝術表達來到了畫廊，而畫廊又回頭看這種野生的藝術形式，這種持續不斷的對話一直在發生。這是畫廊與街頭兩者之間的對話，這就是整個展覽的主題。 這就是為什麼塗鴉還沒有結束。這就是為什麼我們有50年的街頭歷史並一直在前進和發展。所以我認為這件作品完美地呈現了這次展覽的主題。
Interview 採訪 by Xinde Ren 任心得
Edited 編輯 by Michelle Yu 余小悅