Beyond Graffiti

Leaf Tea Shop, Bold Street
17th February 2011

Reviewed by Sebastian Gahan

There are some things one can find only in the capital, and I may just have discovered one of those things tonight.

That is, an exhibition of the art you normally see in back street galleries in London that you admire but could never imagine buying it at "that price." Don't get me wrong, it's worthy art but the setting and the prices displayed in such large numbers seem to distance the average visitor from enjoying the work somehow. The setting was the upstairs venue space in Leaf on Bold Street and the prices were occasionally enough to fill a minimal chunk of the budget deficit! Leaf's white walls and lounge music ambiance did seem though, to distract from the works on show.

Temper, dubbed the Original Graffiti King, is indeed a fine artist with much to recommend in his oeuvre, but there was definitely something missing from the atmosphere; something needed to make the works stand out more. Shows of this nature usually have a passion or indefinable cool present, and despite the excellent work on offer Beyond Graffiti seemed to bubble underneath, never to deliver on the promise it initially made. But, this aside, let's take a look at what was on offer should you have a couple of thousand put aside for just the right occasion...

I Can Control was a beautiful abstract piece with a nude, chained up and looking unbothered, her head replaced by a spray cap, the nozzle seemingly bleeding from the eye. This piece, although clearly graffiti influenced, sat well in its art gallery style frame and would be an excellent addition to the average art collector’s gallery. The same goes for Protected Identity, where a nude viewed from the back is masked by a plume of black aerosol paint like an explosion. Pushing Back Sunlight, selling at a cool £30,000, is from a painting of a nude, painted in the classical style but still imbued with a sense of the modern art vibe. It's debatable whether you'd pay such an amount for the piece, but its beauty should not be denied in any way.

Elsewhere we have some iconic portraits of various celebrities, mostly deceased, such as Diana, Jim Morrison, Elvis and James Dean (spot the odd one out from those four names...). There is also a demographic pleasing two piece set entitled Everton that seems to serve no purpose - to me at least - other than to say that you are indeed in Liverpool at a street art show.

Overall, I enjoyed the work on show but there was a definite sense of a lack of atmosphere where there really should have been something to bring the urban heart of the pieces to the fore. This show was unfortunately for one night only but if ever Temper rolls up in your town, come and have a look - just a look, mind - at some art you will probably never see on your wall!

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