KAWS at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

What a crazy week this has been!

First Robert Del Naja aka 3D presented new prints and a limited edition EP at the “Ritual Spirit” launch at Lazarides Editions, then Martha Cooper had a big show at Stolenspace gallery (interview is getting posted soon!) and now I had the chance for a meet and greet with the legend that is KAWS at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. I am exhausted!

As I love the intersection of consumer products and art, KAWS is right up my alley. After starting out as a Graffiti Writer KAWS quickly climbed the ranks thanks to endorsement by big collectors like A Bathing Ape founder NIGO and super producer Pharrell Williams.

I witnessed the guy collaborate with my fave label from back in the day BAPE, launch his own fashion label after, redesign the MTV Video Music Awards statue, collaborate with Kiehl’s and Hennessy and flew his Companion balloon high in the sky at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

KAWS is definitely making moves!

 Image via  dotherpix
Image via dotherpix

But even with all the success with his product design KAWS always pushed his art game too: When he started blowing up his toy designs to epic scale the art world took notice.

After showing his monumental sculptures at the Frieze Art Fair in London, Harbour City in Hong Kong and at CAC Malaga it made sense that the Yorkshire Sculpture Park near Wakefield would order his sculptures for their vast art park and threw a couple of newly commissioned paintings into the mix as well!

One can understand that I was VERY excited when I managed to get two tickets for a meet and greet with KAWS at the YSP and the chance to be one of the first people to see the new show!

As the guided tour started at the ungodly early hour of 8.30AM on a Saturday morning it was all about charging my iPhone and getting an early night. As the sculpture park is approximately 180 miles from London I was lucky to be able to stop over at the place of a good friend and fellow KAWS enthusiast in Nottingham. In order to head to the sculpture park we planned to hit the road early in his car, or as I like to call it, The KAWS-MOBILE!

Arriving at the museum we were greeted by a massive banner and many friends and fellow KAWS-obsessives, all dressed to impress and ready to rock!

First point of call: The merch stall. Enter Through The Gift Shop is how true players of the collecting game roll, trying to avoid missing out on limited goodies like totes bags, note books and postcards. I kept it casual, purchasing only a couple of nice postcards, the exhibition catalogue and a KAWS tote bag that is quite useless thanks to its miniature size. As if form over function ever stopped me…

After some tasty Bacon Sandwiches provided by the museum it was time to man up, face the harsh Northern weather and start to slide down the muddy hills of the sculpture park…

Although the rain was dismal everybody was in good spirits, snapping happily away. Thanks to the perfect preparation of my friend I was equipped with proper boots, keeping my feet warm and dry amongst all the rain and Yorkshire mud. Thanks Gav!

Many of my fellow visitors weren’t that wise… I don’t think I ever saw so many limited edition trainers covered in dirt in my life (RIP those Yeezy Boosts)…

 via  stphndnld
via stphndnld

What can I say, standing in front of a massive representation of a toy you have back home on your shelf is pretty impressive. Honey I Shrunk The Geeks! What’s even more awesome is when suddenly their creator pops onto the scene as well.

After taking a group shot via a hovering drone ( it’s 2016 after all ) the group trekked to the Longside Gallery Space on the other side of the park. Turning down the shuttle bus to the rest of the show was a big mistake, with me barely reaching the other side thanks to my lack of regular exercise.

Things I suffer in the name of art…

The second we reached dry land things got real: An orderly queue was formed almost IMMEDIATELY to get things signed by KAWS. It’s swiftness and efficiency surprised even me, being German and all.

Grails* were pulled left, right and centre to be signed by the man himself.

I can’t praise KAWS enough for taking the time to sign everything that was handed to him. In my case it was the Rizzoli KAWS book from 2010 and the vinyl cover artwork he designed for Kanye West… and a catalogue… and a little scribble… yeah I pushed it a bit…

(*Grail: A extraordinarily limited collectible item that’s on the wish list of many of your fellow collectors) 

It had to be done…

Loved the five new canvasses by KAWS called “Survival Machine”.  Loved the Chums, Accomplices and Companions. Loved meeting up with with friends and meeting the main man. What else can I say? Great success!

After having taken it all in, it was time to head home. Of cause not without a second visit to the gift shop and a longing look at the five prints that were available to buy but to 510% out of my price range…

So what’s the verdict? Great show. KAWS’ clean and colourful style is as eye popping as always and his sculptures make me feel like an ant on a toy shelf. Thumbs up! 

Big thanks as well to Yorkshire Sculpture Park for curating this great show and organizing this awesome InstaMeet!

Now, to the KAWS-MOBILE my friends!!! It has been a pleasure…

Robert Del Naja: Massive Art Attack

Living in London might be expensive, dirty and stressful but you can’t complain about a lack of amazing artists exhibiting on your doorstep.

And nothing makes an middle-aged music lover happier then old favourites returning to form. Not only did Tricky bless a track on Massive Attack’s new “Ritual Spirit” EP with his raspy raps that were so sorely missed after his split with the band but Robert Del Naja went into the print studio of Steve Lazarides to create 6 limited hand-finished record sleeves for it’s vinyl release.

This reminded me that I never really had Robert Del Naja aka 3D down as one of the most important British Graffiti artists which he surely is. Not only did Banksy quote him as an inspiration but he was the first Graffiti writer in Bristol hitting walls as early as 1984, sometimes together with other legendary writers like Goldie. Oh, and he’s colourblind.

Let’s travel back to 1994. Although back then I was aware of their massive hit single “Unfinished Sympathy” the first Massive Attack album that really hit me was “Protection”. The whole Bristol scene really blew up at that time and Trip Hop raised it’s blunted head(z). 

The song “Sly” off “Protection” had the biggest impact one me with it’s John Barry-esque orchestration and Nicole going full on black Geisha. The video features a lot of inverted colour effects which now reminds me a lot of Del Naja’s later paintings.  

The other thing that stuck with me was the collaged cardboard record cover artwork with the weird bubble character and the knife and fork. It felt like Del Naja ripped apart the iconic “Blue Lines” cover to puzzle together the artwork of “Protection” with some added bits stuck on top. 

The artwork for singles “Protection” and especially “Karmacoma” showed off an additional side to Del Najas style: The manic free flowing child like scribbles and sketches channeling Jean-Michel Basquiat.

“Basquiat’s influence was big for me at this point. As well as magazine clippings I had unexpectedly seen his work in a gallery in Tokyo. He painted in a raw and confrontational way. He abused the canvas with chaotic composition and intense primary colours. It wasn’t just his imagery but the juxtaposed cultural references: media saturation, brand communication, power, poverty, African history, colonisation and exploitation. Everything was consumer labeled and the words seemed part-manifesto and part-hit list.” – via The Vinyl Factory

Parallel to Massive Attack another canvas appeared for Del Naja: The record covers of MoWax releases. I am ashamed to say that it never came to my mind that the artwork of seminal MoWax compilations “Headz” and “Headz 2a + b” were created by Del Naja. And I call myself a MoWax expert?

Original “Headz” painting from 1994

3D returned to MoWax again in 2003 for UNKLEs second album “Never Never Land”. Not only did he contribute vocals on track “Invasion” but his artwork sneaks onto the 12″ remix singles and the animated video by Shynola for lead single “Eye for an eye”.

Whilst he abstained from creating artwork for the Massive Attack albums “Mezzanine” and “100th Window”, James Lavelle encouraged him to pick up the paintbrush again to create paintings for his next UNKLE album “War Stories”. Del Naja actually credits Lavelle a lot for getting him back into art. When the band relaunched in 2007 with “War Stories”, showcasing a rockier sound and all new collaborators, Del Naja provided all the visual imagery. 

As with any project involving two perfectionists the “War Stories” vinyl release was more than lush, featuring a sturdy box holding quadruple vinyl and a 50 page booklet with Del Najas paintings.

Del Najas artwork featured heavily on T Shirts, Pins, Remix and Spin Off Albums until UNKLEs “War Story” phase ended with the release of “Where Did The Night Fall” in 2010 .

Artwork for “End Titles”. Image via Sam Freeman

Top left clockwise: “Hold my hand” single, “Restless” single, “End Titles… Redux” album, “War Stories” album

With the “War Stories” artwork behind him, 3D’s artistic vision focused on Massive Attack releases again. With publisher The Vinyl Factory providing the manufacturing the band released three highly limited EP’s in 2009, all featuring screenprinted artwork by 3D.  Sold out in minutes, this trilogy represents the rarest and most expensive pieces of the Massive Attack back catalogue.

Whilst the first EP “Splitting The Atom” still visually echoes UNKLE’s “War Stories”, the “Atlas Air EP” and the collaborative 12″ with Burial focuses on new, minstrel inspired imagery. 

The cover of the 5th Massive Attack album “Heligoland” takes this concept to the next iteration with a minstrel illustration beneath a grey rainbow. The Vinyl Factory again creates a special deluxe version with a triple gatefold sleeve featuring unique black-glitter coated cover artwork by Robert Del Naja, heavyweight vinyl, a CD with the album and an exclusive 28-page booklet, featuring new Robert Del Naja artwork and Massive Attack tour photography. 

“The minstrel on the front cover represents this tendency to recreate a fictional reality to replace real reality. That’s what’s happening now. You create these talent shows and these reality TV shows and you start to replace reality with reality, but the reality you’re looking at is actually manufactured.

The black and grey rainbow came about because I noticed that rainbows are popping up everywhere, all over people’s advertising. It felt that in the manual for the recession someone had gone: “Add colour to your advertising! If you can, add a rainbow! It’ll cheer everyone up and they’ll start spending their money again.” So that’s why I thought, “I’m gonna desaturate the rainbow and present it as it really is”. This rainbow is not going to make you happy. There is no pot of gold.” – via The Independent

I was lucky enough to get a deluxe version of this album and I can say: Not only is the music a return to form, but so is the artwork! 

2013 saw the arrival of the first big solo show of Del Najas paintings in London at Lazarides gallery in Soho. The show carried the title “Fire Sale” and it was it awesome seeing all of Del Naja’s art in one space, connecting all the visual dots.  

As a nice goodie they had leftover screen printed news print available to take away for free which was a nice touch.

Of cause you can’t do such an exhibition without launching a big art book as well… 3D and The Art of Massive Attack! As the book was produced by The Vinyl Factory you knew there’s gonna be a special edition coming as well: So to your left say hello to the the regular version, to the right marvel at the special edition worth £300, featuring extra etched vinyl, a signed print and much more. Drool here.

So what’s next in 2016? Well, another mad limited The Vinyl Factory EP release, another Lazarides supported show and more musical goodness from 3D and Daddy G. This time with added Tricky!

The collecting hustle never stops when you live in London!

Images via 3D’s Instagram

Personally, Massive Attack already released MY favorite collectors item in 1998: The “Singles 90/98” vinyl box set! Packing 11 x 12″inch vinyl featuring all the classic tracks in great remixes, the box itself is heat sensitive and each 12″ sleeve features artwork by 3D. Unfortunately only mass printed and not silk screened but you need to keep things affordable, right?

Ok so back to the beginning: Lazarides Editions, Robert Del Naja and the launch of the new Massive Attack EP, Ritual Spirit. What can I say, I had a great night! And one day I will be able to afford myself a proper 3D piece…

The exhibition runs from 3rd February 2016 to 5th March 2016

Tuesday–Saturday 11am–7pm. Admission is free

Lazarides Editions: 22 Upper Ground, London, SE1 9PD

Further reading:

The Guardian – Massive Attack’s art of darkness

Clash Magazine – Personality Clash: James Lavelle vs Robert Del Naja

Red Lines – 3D

The Independent – Robert ‘3D’ Del Naja’s massive attack on the art world

For eveything MoWax… http://www.mowaxplease.com/ ( thanks for the Headz 2 pic )

…oh and: Big shout out to my man MoMatt for providing “Fire Sale” snaps at the last minute!

Hackney Wicked: Art, Egg baps and Sweet Toofs

Not breaking news: Dalston and Hackney Central are loosing their cool at an alarming rate with drunken Essex boys and girls pouring into the area. The concerned East London Hipster and Hipsterette has only one chance: To go even more East than East! Welcome to Hackney Wick…

Although the craft beer crowd has already landed, Hackney Wick still has this Outer Rim territory feel with its ware houses and grey motorway that runs parallel to the area.

Hackney WickED Art Festival began in summer 2008, springing up from the garden of The Residence Gallery, when a group of local artists decided to coordinate a series of local art events to highlight and celebrate the breadth and diversity of art and creativity in the area. With talks, performances, open studios and much more has been going from strength to strength and what better for an Dalston twat like me to check it all out!

Personally, any visit to an art festival needs to start with a fashionably late and Instagrammable breakfast, at least in my book. So after I grabbed a Hackney Wicked map and program I hit The Hackney Pearl  for a delicious brekky bap made with free range egg mayo, homemade chilli jam and dry cured streaky bacon. YUM-TASTIC! And yes, I got an extra slice of raspberry cake as well because I am awesome…

Another Hackney Wick classic must be surely Vinyl Pimp. So before I hit the art scene I had to have a quick peek… I just love the smell of vinyl in the morning! Plus his wall of wax is always impressive… no love for cheapskates tho!

One thing struck me straight away roaming the streets of Hackney Wick: This is Sweet Toof Land! The iconic skull and pink gums were out in force, often taking up whole buildings. Say what you will about this visual bombing, it surely is impressive.

What I love about Hackney Wicked is that you can check out all these amazing artist studios in their brick warehouse setting.

Artist studios just fascinate me. Somehow an artist studio has a waft of freedom and rebellion about it for me which I just love and gives the art a subtext that’s fascinating. Plus I just love shelves full of stuff!

Before I get hated for not showing enough art… here ya go! 

I finished my visit of Hackney Wicked with a cold beer at CRATE Brewery and will definitely return next year!

Make sure to connect with Hackney Wicked via their website for next year’s festival!



Pencils at dawn: ELCAF 2015

One of the events I always put in bold into my calendar is the East London Comics and Arts Festival… or in short: ELCAF!

The very first ELCAF took place June 2012 at East London’s Village Underground and the festival has been going strong ever since. No wonder with London having such a thriving Illustration, Art and Design community! This year the event was hosted held across two venues just around my corner: The Laundry and SPACE in Hackney. Easy peasy!

With Workshops, talks, gigs, performances and movie screenings ELCAF has something for everybody and the big exhibitor hall is packed with stalls selling zines, patches, screen prints, tote bags and anything else comic and illustration related. Renowned comic shops and publishing houses like Nobrow Press and Gosh! selling alongside local artists is a great concept and provides a good variety.

It’s just awesome to be able to have a chat and purchase some hand pulled screen prints directly from the artist! Bought a great Dracula print by Peow!Studio and a copy of the great female fighters zine you might have heard about on Kickstarter at the stall of Dilraj Mann. PS: Dilray, next time I’ll buy a screen print as well I promise! Love your work!

Although I promised myself not to buy too much stuff I couldn’t say no to this kick ass She-Hulk by the very talented Donya Todd! Reminds me not to piss off the ladies which is not an easy task..

Another highlight are these absolutely great hand painted Wookie badges by Benjamin Wright. Very PHRESH indeed! Plus you can never go wrong with a great selection of vintage trading cards…

Events like this are so inspirational and I got a big energy rush getting back into my own work. So who knows, maybe there will be a Solaris100 stall at ELCAF 2016! 😉

Visit the official ELCAF website here and seeya next year!

Royal Academy Summer Show 2015 Bloggers Evening

 Sorry not listening… on Instagram ok?

This Friday my blogging mentor Sara from hellothemushroom.com got me into the Instagrammers and Bloggers special preview night of the The Royal Academy’s Summer show, awesome! 

I was surrounded by smart phone addicted weirdos just like me… FINALLY no need to pretend to want to make eye contact, just straight up Instagramming! Bliss!!!

After a lovely free alcoholic beverage some facts were dropped. Firstly: The RA organises this summer show for 247 years now. Secondly: Everybody can enter their work globally and be part of the show. Thirdly: Every artwork is for sale so one can snatch him or herself an artwork by a future Hirst or Emin if lucky! 

Did you know that? I didn’t! You learn something new every day.

This year the show has been curated by Michael Craig-Martin, artist and lecturer who’s pupils went to to become some of the most famous YBA’s like Damien HirstGary Hume or Sarah Lucas.

We were warned that Mr Craig-Martin is quite fond of bold colours and that he even painted one gallery space in bright pink… well, fine by me! 🙂

After that announcement I was more than ready to hit the holy halls of the Royal Academy and after finishing the drinks the blogging crew spilled into the many galleries of the grand building…

The first highlight was the multicoloured psychedelic staircase. It was a bit like ascending to Asgard via the rainbow bifrost bridge…  ( yeah that’s a Marvel Thor reference )

How is the show itself you ask? Well, why don’t you check out yourself… it still runs till the 16th of August! Personally I found it hit and miss, but that’s just normal for a show this size. But with such a variety on display there surely is something up those walls for everyone… and some brightly coloured eye candy on top! Below some of my personal highlights…

The only drawback visiting an exhibition with a fellow blogger: The competition never sleeps! Check out her Instagram account @hellothemushroom

RA Summer Show 2015
JUNE 6 – AUGUST 16, 2015

Royal Academy of Arts
Burlington House, Piccadilly
London W1J 0BD
Hours: Tue–Sun 10-6, Fr 10-10


Sprayed Exhibition at Gagosian Gallery

 Ok I take this… can you wrap it up for me please?

Saturday is the day to get stuff done son! It’s perfect for cleaning the flat, doing the shopping or grabbing fellow blogger extraordinaire Sara Doucette from hellothemushroom.com to check out the latest art shows in town!

As I am quite fond of everything involving aerosols the exhibition of choice this time was “Sprayed” at the Gagosian Gallery in Kings Cross.

Always loving being at the Gagosian… the space is great and really brings the best out of the art that has been curated. 

Whilst there were great pieces on show by artists like Koons, Warhol, Klee, Murakami and Polke I still missed the inclusion of legendary artists like Futura2000 and other early pioneers of aerosol art who went their own way reinventing what was perceived as “Graffiti”.

The reason behind this might be to avoid making this just another Graffiti exhibition, still I feel especially Futura should have been included. Same goes for 3D from Massive Attack who’s mixed media pieces would have fitted into the context perfectly. 

Still the show is well worth checking out and runs until 1st of August 2015.

WORKS FROM 1929 TO 2015
JUNE 11 – AUGUST 1, 2015

Gagosian Gallery
6-24 Britannia Street
London WC1X 9JD
Hours: Tue–Sat 10-6