A Love Letter In Sprays: LA’s BEYOND THE STREETS

At Werkartz, Los Angeles (through 6 July)
Reviewed by Emily Nimptsch

Wandering through the cavernous, labyrinthine, and thoroughly modern galleries of BEYOND THE STREETS, graffiti and street art historian Roger Gastman’s love letter to the genre, the viewer stumbles upon a modest and intimate installation resembling an ancient Roman temple. However, closer inspection reveals references to a myriad of other religious traditions, including Buddhist prayer wheels and a relief sculpture of the Biblical serpent tempting Eve. It is this blending of worlds, this juxtaposition of old and new, east and west, and high and low-brow art that defines this spectacle of an exhibition

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Banksy, Boy and Dog in a Stop and Search

As the co-producer of the Banksy-directed documentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010) as well as the driving force behind MOCA’s momentous 2011 exhibition, Art in the Streets, Gastman has chosen to stage this much-anticipated follow-up within a repurposed 40,000 square foot warehouse on the edge of LA’s trendy Chinatown neighborhood. This symbolic decision signals street art and graffiti’s newly elevated status. What was once associated with street corners, vandalism, and gangs is now finally recognized as contemporary art. Inside, guests will find intriguing selections from over 100 celebrated artists, such as Shepard Fairey, Banksy, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jenny Holzer, and Gajin Fujita. However, Gastman does not intend this sprawling show to be an encyclopedic retrospective, but rather a far more nuanced homage to this inherently defiant and egalitarian artistic movement. As evidence of this democratic ethos, Gastman sourced all of the exhibition’s paintings, sculptures, photographs, and installations directly from the artists themselves, revealing a conscious effort not to support private collectors…

To read the rest of Nimptsch’s review, go to Riot Material magazine: https://www.riotmaterial.com/beyond-the-streets-los-angeles/

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RIOT MATERIAL is LA’s premier literary-cultural magazine with an eye on art, word, and forward-aiming thought. Check out our gallery on IG: @ riotmaterial.

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