October 25 2011
Mark C O’Flaherty
The area surrounding the Truman Brewery on Brick Lane in east London has developed over the past decade into a frenetic scene of hipster youth, design companies, pop-up shops, independent boutiques and alfresco bars and cafés. While some weekends can become uncomfortably Camden-like, at quieter times I like nothing more than having lunch at St John Bread & Wine close by, shopping for music at the David Adjaye-designed Rough Trade store, and then going to the Stolen Space Gallery (second picture), tucked away at the back of the car park of the old brewery, identifiable by its multi-armed, crooked road sign outside the door.
A while ago, the work here would have been called “graffiti art”. Some prefer “street”, or “underground” or “urban”, but the curators here say they don’t really like any of the above. Much of it is informed by new technology as much as by stencils, spray cans and pop. Of course the likes of gallerist Steve Lazarides and the enigmatic artist Banksy have captured the public imagination with their ambitious graffiti-emblazoned installation projects elsewhere, but Stolen Space – while also extending to occasional mega-exhibits in other parts of the Brewery – is a more intimate affair, where you can find prints and originals from internationally renowned and up-and-coming artists that you can either put a red dot beside during a show, or buy and take away straight from a rack.
I’ve acquired a couple of limited-edition prints here by Shepard Fairey, who, after creating the Obama “Hope” image, has become, somewhat literally, the poster boy of the graphic urban art movement. His silk screens on wood (first picture) – when available – sell for around £1,500, while hand-painted multiples are around £8,000. Other key artists they represent are D*Face and SEEN, with prints by many other artists frequently available for below £100 in the gallery.