First of all I hear you ask – who is this Shepard Fairey chap? Well street artists like Banksy are now widely accepted into the general public’s knowledge in this area but I would like to think that Shepard comes a close second – with most people not even being aware that they have seen and would recognise much of his work over the years.
Born in South Carolina in 1970 as Frank Shepard Fairey – he is an American contemporary graphic designer and illustrator who first became known for his “Andre the Giant Has a Posse” sticker campaign and his Obey moniker that has graced many stickers, tshirts and caps ever since.
“Arch manipulator, scoundrel, chief propagandist, provocateur, Shepard Fairey is the man many hail as the originator of the modern urban art scene and is an undeniable phenomenon.”
His work became more widely known during the 2008 U.S. presidential election where he created the Barack Obama “Hope” poster.
Whilst in New York I managed to capture some of his work but didn’t realise at the time that his style had changed whilst photographing it.
In October 2012, Shepard returned to London for the first time in 5 years as part of his Sound & Vision Exhibition.
It featured a range of new works including mixed media paintings on canvas, works on paper, retired stencils collages, rubylith cuts, and as well as serigraphs on wood, metal and paper.
“Sound & Vision, incorporates a diverse array of mixed media works, which embody both the political and social influences on Fairey’s work, particularly that which are directly inspired by music.”
And first up was this huge painting high on a wall near The Old Truman Brewery. Other artists had previously created the space invader and pink creature here with Shepard adding his signature ‘Hi-fi Stereo’ piece in his now trademark colours of red, black and cream.
I’m not entirely sure whether the gold bow, complete with four golden arrows was also part of his piece aswell?
So it was time to check out the main exhibition space at The Stolen Space Gallery on Dray Walk, The Old Truman Brewery in Shoreditch, London.
Entering the airey space, you were greated with white painted breaseblocks and numerous pieces hanging all around over two floors.
With minimal lighting these pieces could easily be swiftly looked upon as nothing special. But it’s the intricate detail included in each piece that makes them so special.
Each canvas features layer upon layer of a whole variety of things including vintage wallpaper and newspaper cuttings which have been treated and distressed adding to the overall effect.
Each piece features a commentary on a particular section of life, whether it be environmental, political, ethics or propaganda.
Each contains an obvious message; whereas on greater examination of the newspaper cuttings gives a further dimension to the overall message – giving even more food for thought.
The photos here don’t particularly do them justice as you just cannot see the detail that has gone into each piece. You can click each photo, them right click them to see the originals where some of the detail may be seen to show how complex each piece actually is!
The Sound & Vision exhibition wasn’t just about traditional art but also an exploration into other non-canvas type pieces. At this exhibition there was a dedicated ‘music area’ with Obey-branded ghetto blasters and vintage record players. Here’s just a sample (no pun intended!)
Some of the pieces had prices next to them (most of which were in the thousands of British pounds!) I can’t make my mind up whether this was an art showcase or a scheme to make some money? Regardless of that each artist HAS to make a living and if the market exists for this work – why not sell it!??
A quick trip to the pop-up shop next door and time to select the best Obey t-shirt on offer – great to get a hand made bag aswell!
And so around to the second part of the exhibition being held at The Loading Bay also on Dray Walk. Outside there was a display of posters and a sample of what to expect inside.
First up the whole ambience of the space resembled a space-age record shop! Record boxes trailed around two walls with specially designed vinyl and sleeves gracing the walls.
Vintage record players and ghetto blasters sat peacefully on display gathering dust!
On the remaining walls was a whole wall of framed 7inch singles on vinyl each on sale for £190. I was tempted but just couldnt decide on which one to choose!
Shepard has created some more external pieces around London promoting the Sound & Vision exhibition. This huge piece graced the walls on Ebor Street but unfortunately had been tagged by someone else!
And Shepard couldn’t come to London without leaving a few of his signature pieces along the way – here we get some Obey Giant face posters and Andre the Giant has a Posse face too.