The Chrome Angelz at The Outsiders
The Chrome Angelz exhibition is being held at the small Soho gallery, The Outsiders, on Greek Street and has all the characteristics of an authentic 1980s graffiti studio. The show exhibits work by the graffiti group The Chrome Angelz. Made up of five members, Bando, Mode 2, Pride, Zaki and Scribla, the group practised throughout the 1980s.Walking into the small room, we are met with photographs of the group in action.
The images are nailed to the wall with small tacks pertaining to the impermanent nature of street art, and arranged in such a manner as posters might be across the bedroom wall of an adolescent boy. Above is a banner reading “Involuntary defacing of public property.” This appears to be the theme that the gallery has chosen to exemplify. On this floor of the exhibition we are given only one original artwork – a spray painted canvas created by Chrome Angelz member Bando. The wall on which it is hung has been stripped of its plastering, scratched and flicked with paint. Next to the canvas is a small photograph of the artist kneeling beside his work.
While the gallery boasts the group’s original canvases in the downstairs room, there is a heavy biographical element to the exhibition. The photographs upstairs are generally of the artists with their work or in the process of working, and are titled in such a way as to reflect the lives of the group, such as “Bando counting the stolen paint.” The exhibition seemed to be just as much a celebration of their lives as their work.
Given the nature of the artwork shown and the context in which it is placed, this exhibition is about truly stepping backwards in time. We are swept back to the 1980s in the buzz of the small gallery, with funk music playing in the crowded downstairs room. The “white cube” gallery space could not have been more acutely designed with The Outsiders squat-like aesthetic. Bare walls are stripped of paint bringing the outdoor setting within the four walls of the gallery and perhaps that is exactly where it should be. Graffiti is too often condemned as vandalism so it is refreshing to see how it can be accepted as an art form in its own right.
The Chrome Angelz exhibition runs until 14th July 2012 at The Outsiders gallery on Greek Street, Soho.