The venue was a disused office in the centre of Whitechapel, with a collection of artists covering a mix of styles and practices spread over three floors. Yes, it sounds very arty and yes it sounds very East London arty, but I was still intrigued and rather surprised to receive the invite as I had no idea who Blair Zaye or Hayes Burke were, neither did I recognise any of the artists that were listed. But I was on the guest list to a private viewing, don't you know; how could my ego resist such a mysterious and spontaneous opportunity!
To give you a brief idea of how the art work was set out:
The first floor (Curated by Hayes Burke)
Contains a diverse range of work spanning print, painting, sculpture, illustration, video and site specific installations.
The ground floor (Curated by Blair Zaye)
Is a small room set out salon style focusing on street artist's and illustrator's 2d work and a street art.
The basement (Curated by Blair Zaye)
Painted floor to ceiling and wall to wall by 15 of some of London's most accomplished and prolific street artist's working at the moment.
As soon as I arrived I was greeted with art work. A saturation of illustrations hanging on the walls, painted on the walls, art work everywhere. I immediately headed for the basement; wanting to work my way from the bottom upwards. Down the stair case I saw what I would later discover to be Blair's trade mark 'eye'. As it led me downwards I felt like I was being hypnotised into some sort of time warp. I felt pleasantly dizzy staring at it (and this was me sober!).
The basement was loud. There was a band playing in a darkly lit room; a mini concert surrounded by graffiti and street art and, somehow, they complimented each other well. The audience was attentive and relaxed yet fully engaged and for a moment I was taken back to my Uni days; watching wannabe rock-stars and student bands in the student union or small intimate pubs (maybe it was a time warp after all). As I continued to explore the basement the actual flat layout began to reveal itself: the dis-used kitchen was partially blocked off; it's distinct council flat style cubbies now decorated in fluorescent colours, signs and symbols. My favourite part of this level was watching artists complete their artwork right in front of you. I managed to capture a young lady finalise the finishing touches to a face that looked like a caricature self portrait.
The top and ground floor were a combination of installations, film, sculptures, portraits and paintings- a stark contrast the dark and intimate atmosphere created in the basement. The top floor was bright and extremely well lit. A particular favourite of mine was a photograph of two burnt matches by David O'Shaughnessy- it was its simplicity that struck me. I quite liked the monochrome dimension it had too. Definitely something that I'd adorn in my own place. There were also these sculptures reminiscent of a Faberge egg that were delicately placed around the room adding an air of romance and regality to the space.
The ground floor or middle was where my journey had both started and drew to a close as this was street level and where the entrance/exit was. Before I left I made sure to fully take in the intricate framed street art on the walls around me some of which was incredibly arresting with the depth of colour and detail. There was also projection shown in another room of what looked the like the changing of the guards by St James or Buckingham Palace. I'm not too sure what the instillation was trying to portray neither could I quite fathom the 3 television sets stacked one above each other on the staircase showing what looked like people trapped inside it. I listened quietly whilst one artist explained his art work with the earnestness as one would explain the meaning of life. Their work, in my humble opinion, was not quite worth the gravitas which they had placed upon it. Yet this is the thing with art, it's what makes it such a provocative subject; it's such a very subjective experience.
I'm not sure if this was the intention, but one could say that the whole building seemed like a superficial representation of Earth, the Underworld and the Heavens. The basement being a dark, claustrophobic, intense and intriguing space where art work glowed in the dark with obscure and in-decipherable messages. The middle/ground floor was a combination of mediums; (paintings, video projections and installations) a busy and yet very relaxed space, not too packed- not too empty. And then top floor with its bright and spacious, large room and art work placed delicately around to emphasise its eerie, ethereal-ness in comparison to the floors below.
Overall the experience was an enjoyable one. I liked the distinct different vibes that each floor provided and how they seamlessly blended with one another whilst still being in great contrast too.
I could certainly get used to being on the guest list for Art Exhibitions...
Check out their website page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1476871189267782/
For more on the artist Blair Zaye: http://www.blairzaye.com/