Painting in the Street: Bowie returns to Brixton (via Opera Gallery)



If you scrub the paint off the white walls in my childhood bedroom, you'll find the lyrics to Bowie's Moonage Daydream next to where my bed used to be. I've always been a Bowie fan, so 2013 has been a dream year for me.

Of course, the V&A exhibition has eclipsed the art world's year of homage to him, especially with this week's announcement that over 200 cinemas will broadcast the exhibition with curators and other special guests introducing exhibits.

Bowie Tryptich, Mr Brainwash

If you poke around, though, there are little Bowie treasures everywhere. Bowie Fest, brought to you by Weirdos Comedy, takes the piss out the V&A exhibit. And just last week, I went to the opening of the Opera Gallery's summer collection of Bowie-inspired artworks. It was rammed, but I managed to peer over some (very) well-dressed shoulders to see some great pieces from contemporary and street artist such as JimmyC, Mr Brainwash, Joe Black, Eduardo Guelfenbein, Nick Gentry, Marco Lodola and The London Police.

Brixton mural, JimmyC

Let's look at JimmyC for a sec. He's an awesome London street artist - check out some more of his stuff here. He's done a Bowie piece on the exterior wall of Morley's on Brixton High Street (see above), and a sister canvas is on show at Opera Gallery. Says the artist: "I have much respect for David Bowie. Not only does he write great music, but there has always been such a strong visual and aesthetic element to his image and performances. To create a canvas and a sister piece for the streets of Brixton feels like a fitting tribute. I hope Brixton's residents enjoy it."

I won't deny I'm bloody excited to haul ass to the V&A for their polished retrospective of DB (yeah, I know, I've still not made it over there. Come on, it's West London), but I wonder which exhibition Bowie himself would prefer? I'm inclined to say Opera Gallery and its gaggle of contemporary artists have smashed it. But don't take my word for it; head on down and take a look for yourself.

Vandalism: just a more creative form of art conservation




Last Thursday, a member of Fathers4Justice vandalised an official portrait of the queen. Apparently he did it because he has lost contact with his two children; and what better way to show the world your paternal potential than by getting yourself publicly fined and arrested? Anyway, comment has ensued, and journalists are asking: why the sudden trend to attack paintings? This isn't an isolated event. The vandalism of a Mark Rothko painting in the Tate Modern last October is just one of many recent attacks on art.



A couple of weeks ago, I considered what makes art, and what makes an artist. Of course, this is unanswerable, but the grey area is intriguing. The Chapman Brothers, the artistic duo with a penchant for controversy (you know, as opposed to all the wallflower YBAs - I'm looking at you, Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin), bought a bunch of Hitler's shoddy watercolours in 2008. They painted rainbows on them and re-named them 'If Hitler Had Been A Hippy, How Happy Would We Be'. Now, this opens a whole truckload of cans of worms, but lets focus on this: it is generally accepted that these are no longer paintings by Hitler, but paintings by the Chapman Brothers.



In light of what I said about Marcel Duchamp (who took a urinal, turned it upside down, signed it and called it his own artwork), I wonder: can we call vandals of artworks in museums 'artists'? Surely they have just done what Duchamp and the Chapman Brothers did before them. And what about street artists? The likes of Banksy have given more mainstream credibility to street art, but how can we ever know if an artist owns his artwork - and how can we protect established artists from having their works hijacked? Do we want to?

Now here's the real thinker: how many questions can I possibly include in one blog post?


That'll be £40, please: The Affordable Art Fair

Famous for its friendly atmosphere and commitment to democratising art buying, the Affordable Art Fair has established itself as the go-to destination for anyone looking to invest in a piece they love. Lucky for Londoners, it's coming to Hampstead Heath.

Original prints, oil paintings, sculptures and photography will range from £40 to £4,000. The Fair continues until Sunday, but I'd advise going as early as you can - you'll be one of 20,000 people looking for your first - or next - artwork.

This is more than just an oversized pop up art shop though; talks tours and artist-led workshops will be held throughout the day to break up the bargaining.

Fair Director Romy Westwood gives her tips on making the most of your day:


Be prepared - Before you set out, have a think about the space you are looking to fill: How big is it? How well lit is it? What is the colour scheme? Look online at the exhibiting galleries to tickle those taste buds. Ask a friend to join you for a fun-filled day out and most importantly, wear comfortable shoes to stroll the aisles of the art fair and then romp over the Heath!

Pace yourself - Finding that perfect piece of art shouldn’t be daunting. An art fair should be a pleasant, inspiring experience, not an exhausting one. Grab a fair guide and take your time, giving yourself chance to take in all the wonderful pieces of art on show. Refresh your senses in the café or wine bar. If the kids are in tow, the fair offers a crèche facility for children from 2-10 years of age, allowing grown-ups browse the fair in peace, alternatively the whole family can get stuck in to one of the free hands-on workshops before going back to take a second look at some of those pieces that you’ve fallen in love with.

Trust your instincts - Buying art is about an emotional connection you feel with the work.
Trust your own taste and go for pieces you will take pleasure in viewing day in and day out.

Have fun! - Art is FUN! Enjoy yourself and get involved with all that’s on offer: meet art
industry experts, learn about art techniques, take a whistle stop tour of the fair and all in all
just have a super day out!

Hoping to see you there!

Sex sells, but so does the sea



For the past week, I've been chillaxxing in sunny, WiFi-less Rhodes (and by 'chillaxxing', I mean being absolutely destroyed by mosquitoes). Hence why this post is a) late and b) a tiny liddle weeny baby bit short. But hey, adjectives are my friend and I can stretch a word count.

Enough jet-lagged babble; let's get down to business, art fans.

So, word on the street is that red is the best colour if you're a struggling artist. Why? Because people are more drawn to it, and thus more likely to buy it, according to Jonathan Jones. Personally, I think these are two separate things: the art I go and stare at in galleries is not the art I would choose to hang in my home. Ok, JJ may not have meant 'buy' in the Andy-Warhol-consumer-goods sense of the word, but if this is the case, it still isn't people who are buying the art, but large companies, galleries, and other arty institutions.

When we're considering people buying art, I wouldn't have thought red is the colour that attracts the cash. An obtainable (read: priced, not priceless) artwork is as much a homely ornament as anything, and red is difficult, stubborn, and of course, sexy. Wonderful, but not wall-friendly. Call it my Cornish upbringing, but give me a nice, blue, seascape any day.

Kurt Jackson, Cape pm, off shore breeze

I've got my buyer's head on... I'm going art shopping at the Affordable Art Fair this weekend and I cannot wait!
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