Chimpomatic

Cans Festival

Leake Street, London

This cleverly named exhibition shows how far street art has come in the last ten years. Anyone who's lived in or around London for any length of time will be so used to seeing Banksy's creations come and go around town and with the exhibitions in America making front page headlines and his work being sold to countless celebrities, so it was no surprise that when I turned up to this Bank Holiday festival of stencil art curated by and including the 'man' himself the queue was round the block.

In case you don't know, this all takes place on Leake street, a tunnel under the old Eurostar at Waterloo station and it contains stencil paintings and sculptures by various street artists including Banksy. Anyone can contribute to this show throughout the weekend but it is strictly limited to stencil art only. There's a reception made out of an old caravan that artists have to register at where they will then be guided to the remaining free space on which to leave their mark. The result is a visual feast and a fantastically concentrated platform for this art. It seemed strange to be queuing for a highly organised exhibition of anarchic art, especially under a towering billboard that reads 'Gentrify This' but once you've made it through you'll find it was worth the wait.

You're not allowed to paint over anyone else's work so everything is tastefully placed but the quality is impressive. Dotted around burnt out cars, painted sofas and ice cream vans are thousands of images that all seem to behave perfectly with each other. The whole tunnel is totally covered with work and doused in dripping paint and if you can get a glimpse through the wall of flashing cameras you'll be glad you came. Every manner of culture has been thoroughly trashed from Michaelangelo's David, The Queen, Andy Warhol, our beloved hoodies and our (apparently) equally beloved Boris.

It's all very exciting and very hard to find a bad word to say about such an event being staged for free at a location as tourist-friendly as this. Banksy never seems to run out of good ideas these days and even though it's way more interesting to come across one of his visual one-liners on some dingy back ally in Hackney, to see some of these works on the scale that they are shown here is great. To be honest, I'm a bit bored of this stuff. It's so commonplace now and never seems to rise above its obvious, anti-establisment message but as an event in the capital I take my hood off to them. If this was Ken's swan song then thanks for the memories dude.


Links

Cans Festival
BBC

Tags

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9th May 2008 - Tumblr

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