For more than 25 years East London has been subject to an interesting form of subcultural activity known as street art. Reprehensible to some, embraced by others, colourful, witty and controversial pieces are spread out all over the East End.
The streets of the East End are full of striking outdoor urban art from Banksy to works by undiscovered artists. Boroughs of Hackney and Tower Hamlets feature large amount of pieces, being Brick Lane the epicenter of street art in East London.
Artists such as Cartrain, Flavio Solo, Blek le Rat, Mobstr and Otto Schade are part of this dynamic art movement which changes as older pieces are gone over by other artists or buffed away by the Council.
The industrial-like space between Brick Lane and Commercial Street is utilized in a way no art gallery could ever emulate. It is striking the giant suspended bow and cupid arrow positioned across from one building to the back of another where you can see the shower of arrows landing into the wall. There are also key symbols such as the credit crunch monster, the pixellated alien face and the pink car by Banksy. This public space near the Truman Brewery, makes the entire street part of the context of the art.
One of the most famous street artists is ROA, renowned for his visceral monochrome animals in varying degrees of decay. He is the author of the giant Crane on Hanbury Street, an icon of Brick Lane. Other fantastic works by ROA can be found around Shoreditch, Hackney and along Regent’s Canal.
Perhaps the most loved graffiti artist in the city is Stik. He is renowned for painting simple, androgynous stick figures which nevertheless convey complex body language and emotion. There is a meaningful work by Stik near Brick Lane Mosque which depicts a burka clad figure who is holding the hand of her companion. It is a highly regarded piece and has been appreciated by the Muslim community considering it as a sign of inclusiveness.
South African born Christiaan Nagel’s mushrooms are an iconic trademark of East London’s landscape. Drawing inspiration from the Surrealism and Pop-Art movement, the artist seeks to place his brightly coloured fungi at ever greater heights and in more unexpected and challenging places.
Street art is a very contemporary form of art, and part of a huge movement across the whole world to challenge what is public property. Step outdoors and head to the streets of East London. It is an amazing experience witnessing such inspiring creativity.
Follow the link for street art in Berlin.