Street art in London is usually associated with being spread along abandoned buildings in East London or the Leake Street Tunnels in Waterloo – not on the white walls of Saatchi Gallery in the well-heeled area of Chelsea.
This exhibition is taking it off the streets and presenting it inside, across all three floors of the Saatchi Gallery in a visually striking exhibition that includes works by contemporary street artists, fashion, street art history and immersive installations.
Malcolm McLaren X Vivienne Westwood T-shirt
Kenny Scharf’s Day-Glo installation filled with ephemera that glows in the dark is like wandering into a street artist’s Aladdin’s cave, while Danish artist HuskMitNavn’s installation filled with large-eyed characters and pastel colours could masquerade as a quirky child’s bedroom. Paul Insect’s puppets operating inside a shop window are another highlight and it’s these immersive environments that are the strongest elements of the exhibition.
There are plenty of wall-based works on display including a large selection of works by household names such as Shepard Fairey - he of the Obama Hope poster. However, placing these eye-catching works on white walls feels like too much of a contrast and it detracts from the rebellious and anti-establishment nature of street art.
The culture of street art also influenced the fashion world and there are some great outfits on display and a whole lot of trainers – though the latter does feel like visitors have walked into an Adidas advert.
The large exhibition also has historical works on display including memorabilia, posters, cassette tapes and a section on how the Beastie Boys integrated street art culture into their look and music. A highlight of this section being Futura 2000’s 30-foot painting that was made on stage as The Clash played their set in 1981.
There’s no denying the ambition of this monumental exhibition but the narrative that holds it together feels very loose and it’s difficult to find a thread that ties it all into a coherent narrative. It’s a visual feast for the eyes but much like the art we often find out on the street it feels like all of the works are fighting each other for our attention, rather than complementing each other to tell the story of street art.
Beyond the Streets London at Saatchi Gallery. 17 February - 9 May. £25.
|What||Beyond the Streets London, Saatchi Gallery|
|Where||Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York's HQ, King's Road, London, SW3 4RY | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Sloane Square (underground)|
17 Feb 23 – 09 May 23, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
|Website||Please click here for more information|