Night Raids

Now’s The Time – The Black Rat Gallery

After a slow start to the year, London’s galleries have started to pick up the pace and deliver some quality shows. This group show is no exception, the Black Rat Press have put together an interesting mix of street artists who have undoubtedly led the way and opened doors over the last 30 years.

With famed artists like Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat being paired up with Shepard Fairey and Banksy, throw in Faile, Swoon, Barry McGee and Os Gemeos and we have a show with something for even the must critical of tastes.

Set under the arches next door to Cargo, The Black Rat is a perfect venue for “Now’s The Time” with the harsh brick walls showing off some of the worlds more famous contemporary artists. Seeing Banksy pieces alongside Basquiats can only lead to comparison between the status of the two artists, although the style of work on display is very different, their work is both message led, and mass media hyped. Basquiat was at the forefront of artists to emerge in the 80s before his untimely death at the age of 27, and Banksy shares a similar limelight, but I am sure he has a few more stencils (and stunts!) in him yet.

The Obey pieces look stunning, the standout being the Duality of Humanity piece, there are countless layers of screening and spray making up this Vietnam war image of a young boy with a mandatory assault rifle. Keith Harings style can be seen all over, from copy cat artists, to public safety signs. Like Shepard Fairey he created his own instantly recognisable style, albeit simpler, and stuck to it regardless of if it was on a wall, canvas or skateboard.

The other artists filling up the arches had a mix of mediums from cut out stencils on the walls, to steel figures to more simpler canvas’s. New Yorks Swoon and Fail offer their own patented styles of wheatpasted wonders to add to the elite list artists that firmly set their stall out on the street, but made a b-line to galleries. Os Gemeos, on the other hand are twin brothers from Brazil, and are still more at home on the street, the taller the wall the better as the Tate modern found out a couple of summers back!

The show runs until the 20th May and is free to view Tuesday-Saturday and is well worth checking out, especially as you can grab a beer and burger and enjoy some great art in Cargo’s garden too!

Words and photos by Phil Proctor.