After weeks of colouring in and branding the walls of Shoreditch with his trademark style Shepard Fairey has finally stepped away from his cherry picker to open the doors of Stolen Space Gallery for his first London exhibition in 5 years.
The Stolen Space Gallery section of this exhibition is a nostalgic recollection of times gone by, of basement style record stores, stores which flourished in the 80’s/90’s but which have all mostly closed now due to the rise & popularity of digital music or priced out to make way for coffee shops. Coffee shops where people sit plugged into ipods listening to downloaded music in a building that used to be a store that sold music, music on vinyl, music that hadn’t yet been abducted by the age of ‘digitally remastered’… music that still had a bit of snap, crackle & pop.
Obey album artwork hangs on the wall as would album covers hang in a record store and racks of LP’s from Shepard Fairey’s private collection line the room which you are encouraged to play on the turntables and listen to through headphones.
Vintage tape decks, record players and turntables gave a sense of time & history to the show
Now we flip it over to the B side:
So, after viewing Shepard Fairey’s Record Store it is a brisk walk over to Shepard Fairey’s Shopping Mall, a larger venue with 3 floors (I didn’t even venture into Shepard Fairey’s Clothing Store which is on the same block). The Mall (for want of a better word) is absolutely full of Obey, it is The Obey Hypermarket, with prices rising as you ascend floors, starting in the basement at around £90.00 and eventually reaching £28,000.00 on the top floor, “Come on down, there’s something for everyone!” went the voice in my head.
I think it is obvious at this point that I am not completely enamoured with Shepard Fairey, simply because his repetition is in essence like a broken record, a record that doesn’t really inspire me and having had the same message drummed into my sense of aesthetic again and again it has ultimately created an aversion in me. The only redeeming moments I discovered in this part of the show were the screen prints on aluminium just because they didn’t have the red thing going on which I feel is like a product placement that I have been visually force fed almost as long as I’ve been force fed the McDonalds logo.
I did enjoy the show he put on 5 years ago, I enjoyed the size and scale of the pieces. Sound & Vision is more compact (yep, like a CD), and mass produced and is like any other shopping experience that you might have to undertake in the High St. As awe inspiring as it was to view the ‘ The Obey Record Store’ and appreciate how much attention to detail went into creating the atmospherics and to find myself wanting to buy a few of the album covers, it’s sad to have to say that this awe evaporated rather rapidly after viewing & experiencing the art in the larger space which was comparable to a visit to HMV or Tower records at Christmas time for stocking fillers. For the Shepard Fairey aficionados this show will thrill and fulfil because it is full of what Shepard Fairey does so well and it is not often that Shepard & his little helpers come to Town.