A museum exhibition of street art – that’s really something different from what you usually see. I first saw street art in Hong Kong around the Sai Ying Pun and Tai Ping Shan area (see this handy tag here!), which is definitely a more likely choice to see graffiti than in Singapore! ‘Art from the Streets’ at my ever-favourite ArtScience Museum is however, a surprising display of works from some of the biggest names among street artists.
The great thing about this exhibition is that you can see works from a range of street artists all in one place, saving the trouble of trekking across sloping streets to hunt down street art (yes, I’m referring to HKwalls at Tai Ping Shan!) But beyond arguments of the ‘institutionalisation’ of street art by showing them as museum exhibits, or losing the site-specificity of these works, I think that there is something about the dynamic nature of these works that belong solely to the streets, which is lost when placed within a museum setting.
| Cover picture: Futura, Spray paint on concert background, 1982, spray paint on canvas |
Futura, Electric Orange, 1984, spray paint on canvas
Still, that’s not going to stop me from appreciating these works of art as they are! Right from the beginning of the exhibition, I was particularly attracted to Futura’s Futuristic “abstract graffiti style”.
Is this possibly inspired from Futurism, an early 20th century art movement that started in Italy? Futurists, as supporters of the movement called themselves, celebrated modern life and the city. Aesthetically, their artworks showcased vivid colours and abstract forms that highlighted speed and dynamism. On a darker note, their violent rejection of old forms of culture also formed an aspect of the movement. Personally, I find this bit of art history quite fascinating, and it is really interesting to see this allusion to the movement in street art today too.
Crash, Silver, 1981, spray paint on canvas
I love how spray paint can create this blurry effect, particularly clear in Crash’s Silver. Futura’s two works above also look a little unfocused along the edges as you pan out from the centre.
Stéphane Bisseuil, Graffiti, New York, 1991, digital wallpaper print
There are a few works in the exhibition that were captured in a large wall print so you can see the artwork in the context of its street, which I thought was very nicely done!
Invader, Pong, 2001, ceramic on wood panel
Ah, Invader in Singapore… though not in his usual secret “invasion” mode! In Hong Kong however, he has already invaded the city three times, with his last visit around October last year.
In Pong, notice the lone silver mosaic tile – it’s actually a reflective mirror-like piece!
Zhang Dali, Demolition: Forbidden City, Beijing, 1998, photograph
This is another favourite of mine! Zhang Dali is really one of relatively few Chinese artists who also work on street art. From 1995 to 1998, he spray painted an impressive 2,000 images of his head onto walls of to-be-demolished structures as an act of protest against the rampant demolition of traditional buildings in China, especially common in Beijing. In some cases, like this work here, he punched through the wall while keeping the shape of his head in side profile.
Banksy, Rat & Heart, 2015, spray paint and emulsion on canvas
Of course, Banksy has to be included in this exhibition of street art! But it’s perhaps due to the popularity of his works that I feel like I’ve seen this image of Rat & Heart many times elsewhere.
There’s actually one more Banksy work in the form of a wallpaper print located at the entrance/exit of the exhibition, which made it inconvenient to take a picture! I wished it was placed inside the exhibition galleries instead!
Jef Aérosol, Sitting Kid and Butterflies, 2016, stencil on cardboard; Sitting Kid, 2015, stencil
I like Sitting Kid in stencil more than its companion Sitting Kid and Butterflies, but here they are shown side by side.
Rero, One More Picture On My Phone, 2017, digital wallpaper print
Wow, I haven’t had an artwork speak to me as much as One More Picture On My Phone does, HAHAHAHAHA! I can just imagine this on a pristine white wall in Tiong Bahru, where so many people take OOTDs…
Remi Rough, Concise, 2018, created on-site at Artscience Museum
Felipe Pantone, Chromadynamica, 2018, created on-site at Artscience Museum
There were a couple of works created on-site at ArtScience Museum, which I thought was really cool! Two of them are pictured here, by Remi Rough and Felipe Pantone (also seen in my HKwalls post).
Vhils, Fondations [Foundations], 2017, advertising posters recovered from the street, hand cut and carved
I got so caught up looking at these faces that I didn’t realise that they were actually cut out from street posters!
Os Gemeos by Stéphane Bisseuil, Houston x Bowery street mural, New York City, 2009, photograph
Such a fun and colourful pop of colour on the street.
I don’t often participate in interactive activities in museum exhibitions, though I really should especially when Singapore museums always seem to have fun activities! For Art on the Streets, you could fill in these old-school Hello my name is stickers and paste them onto an in-house graffiti wall!
Check out this exhibition before it closes next Sunday, 3rd June 2018. There’s a 1-for-1 offer for this exhibition now!
I’m pretty shameless to say that I always go to ArtScience Museum when they have 1-for-1 offers, and I went to see Art from the Streets along with Treasures of the Natural World when the latter exhibition was in its last week! Treasures of the Natural World was just fantastic, more on that exhibition soon.