CARTRAIN: My London Cultural Diary
Rebel street artist CARTRAIN tells us about London life in the East End after the mainstream moved in
‘Before street art developed into the mainstream it was about neurosis and the insanity of the unconscious mind. That’s what artists were painting onto the streets. But as time has gone on that sort of raw element has been taken away and replaced with an aesthetic, fake street element where hundreds of artists and thousands of names are deliberating making pretty, colourful murals.’
One of those ‘names’ which has become embedded in our pop culture is Banksy. ‘At the height of Banksy, Brick Lane was quite a rough and dilapidated area where people were scared to go. It felt like it had something genuinely edgy and raw to it. But now the element of fear and danger associated with graffiti has almost been turned into a piece of pop culture itself.’
As artists like Banksy start to attract attention, and established auction houses like Sotheby’s begin to mass enormous profit, the landscape of street art changes. ‘The fine art world doesn’t tend to take street art that seriously because a lot of it isn’t that serious. It’s often over saturated with pop comical elements’.
A portrait for our time ... Cartrain's portrayal of Damien Hirst. Photograph: Cartrain
‘Shoreditch used to be filled with artists and now it’s all city workers and posh apartments. Did you know that Tower Hamlets has the highest poverty count in the whole of the country but the highest count of millionaires moving into the area too?’ CARTRAIN himself heralds from Leytonstone where a new hub of creative activity is blossoming.
Not for Sale at Imitate Modern gallery, a tucked away space off Marylebone High Street, transports the viewer to a back alley of East London. ‘There’s a certain area of Brick Lane and East London where people tend not to go because it’s dangerous or it’s been stigmatised because of a bad reputation. So I thought if Mohammed won’t come to the mountain, why don’t I bring the mountain to Mohammed?’
Best-loved walk or view?
The waterfall in Regent’s Park
Greatest meal you’ve ever had in London?
Steak & chips at Scott’s, Mayfair
Favourite local restaurant/bar/pub?
Arepa & Co (Venezuelan food geniuses based in Haggerston)
Most memorable aesthetic experience?
Painting my first canvas
Best for children?
The National Gallery
Where will you be seen this month?
Imitate Modern gallery
Public/cultural/artistic figure you admire?
Gilbert & George. A year ago I placed one of my works outside their house just off of Brick Lane and they were photographed next to it for an interview in the Guardian. Then for their exhibition at the White Cube Gallery, SCAPE GOATING PICTURES for London, they used it in one of their large collages.