War Paint

Words and pics by Phil Procter

Subcultures have always had their own brand of art and when a graffiti collective called Wildbunch in the 80s spawned the man known as “3D” they probably never came close to envisaging the global acceptance of his work musically with Massive Attack or as an artist.

Tie this in with the abstract photography from skater, and one time SlamCity employee, Will Bankhead and we have a body of work well worthy of checking out. These two artists plus a couple of other notables such as Warren Du Preez and Nick Thornton Jones make up the visual side of the Mo Wax creation known as Unkle.

Warpaint is art inspired and used on the latest Unkle album, War Stories. It’s quite a departure from the first Unkle offering, Psyence Fiction, of some 16 years ago, both musically and art wise its much more organic and blunt in comparison to the lazer beam sharp Pointmen art that Futura2000 created to match up with DJ Shadow and James Lavelles ground breaking soundscapes.

The art itself definitely has an eerie feel, the boldly blacked out gallery adds to Robert Del Najas (aka 3D) blurring of the relationship between silhouette and shadow. The imagery is tweaked to haunting proportions, creating lasting impressions of skeletal figures staring out desperately lost in warzones and terror carnage.

While the photography that accompanies the canvas is much sharper, it still keeps the surreal element firmly in the forefront. The mixing of the formats adds some clarity, and the use of negatives keeps the desperate essence of all the work on show.

The exhibition is running until the 25th April, and the Lazarides Printshop next door will be having the prints on display until they are all sold.

Lazarides Gallery 125 Charing Cross RD
Soho, London WC2H 0EW Tues-Sat 11am-7pm