Street Art can arrive through many channels. Its application can arrive through stencil, paper, spray paint, marker or even sponges. Mostly, there is an immediacy. One gets a sense of time. And apropos with the oeuvre, a certain anonymity.
These many and varied forms of expressionism make this the most modern, and vibrant of artistic movements; now accepted as a bona fide category for the visual arts. A recent conversation with one artist came to the consensus that the street is now where the best examples of artistic endeavour are to be found. The gallery is dead. Long live the avenue, road, crescent, lane…
Within the rapidly-expanding vista of our own Turnpike Art Gallery, we are blessed with a plethora of such varied and vibrant artworks. There is no fee to visit. And the artworks on show were all donated (created) free of charge. This paradoxical state of being was highlighted with a new, and powerful wall installation recently created by Polish artist NeSpoon. Although, we would argue, this enigmatic of artists is not a street artist. She is simply an artist.
Talking as she painted, NeSpoon suggested her rightful place on the street art scene was its kindergarten. Yet in less than five years she has fashioned her own niche, and made a genuine impact, from both the geographical perspective, and more importantly as a woman able to have a voice in this very virile of art forms.
Her first installation was for children - a collection of ceramic lady birds, set free onto the streets where she lived. NeSpoon recalled making them in winter, and patiently waiting for a sunny March morning in which to begin a new journey. This moment opened her eyes - more to the contours of her home town, than the potential for making more ceramics. Not intending to make street art, this first venture triggered a chain reaction where she says "I saw everywhere places where I should do it [place art]. Good places… here… and here …and here". And in due course, NeSpoon very literally saw the light, summed up with a very poignant remark "In one minute you start to see the city like a gallery."
Most compelling is a link she shares with many established street artists - their adoption of the quotidian as a form of muse. Think the Toasters Toaster, Nagel's mushrooms. NeSpoon found inspiration in the fine-spun structure of lacework, first through ceramic fabrication, then latterly huge stencils and hand-painted delicacy. Her means of making is prolific. Yet each speaks of a universal familiarity. Somewhat self-depricating, NeSpoon laughs at the moment when lace entered her artist consciousness - "I never thought I would make such stupid, easy going things!"
Therein lies the paradox. These monolithic fractals followed her escape from a dark place, into a more transcendental reality. Once more dismissing her own importance, NeSpoon suggests that she is merely the conduit for the placement and form of her work, and that when she 'listens' to the feedback whilst making, a form of subliminal guidance controls how much water or paint or pressure is applied to her work. "I didn't choose them. They chose me," she says.
What is undeniable, is the critical end desire for NeSpoon. She wants her pieces to evoke positive emotion. And they do. Five days in her company, and you feel as if you've spent two weeks on a Goan beach. This artist channels herself through her creations; with a very real and genuine desire to make people happy. Even if only for one second.
Her rebirth came some time in the past, with a conscious decision to change herself. No self-help manual for this lady. She found solace in a scene from The Matrix, with the character Neo discovering "There is no spoon". Embracing this notion of a new, limitless reality, NeSpoon was born.
So it is key when looking at her work, that one forms ideas. And as the artist suggests "jump where you want". It was at this point in our discussion, as the paint began to dry, that a very real picture began to form of how art can change lives. NeSpoon is a living example of this. Of such change she summarises "Most people think they can't do it. And they don't do it. The most important thing is to start to try. Because when you don't try, you will never go where you want to go."
In NeSpoon's signature lace artworks, one is reminded of Native-American dreamcatchers. And similarly, ancient diagrams of Indian Chakras, such as the thousand-petalled Lotus - Sahasrara. Perhaps it is no coincidence that Chakra is the Sanskrit word for wheel, or turning. And that Sahasrara is the chakra for pure consciousness, within which there is neither object nor subject. Associated themes of rebirth and the colour white also seem to strongly reflect the artworks created by NeSpoon.
When she stepped back from our Roof Garden wall, and declared "She is finished", the end artwork seemed dripping like some gossamer fishing net, one which had caught every positive comment from the passers by who felt compelled to tell the artist how much they loved the piece. More than a dreamcatcher, this lacework holds energy, and shares its bounty. Our gallery has its own portal to positive emotion, in whatever form the viewer desires.
Eager to give something back, we took NeSpoon on two contrasting, yet linked cultural trips within London. We took a tour of Tate Modern's collection, almost causing a coronary, as NeSpoon found herself at close quarters with paintings only ever seen in text books. Catching breath, after several successive Picasso masterpieces, we both found the Gerhard Richter room containing his Cage series somewhat overwhelming. A day later, we took NeSpoon on a rain-soaked rush through Shoreditch's many and varied street art scene. This experience provoked similar awe, as any street art fan would sense. Pausing briefly, she generously contributed a beautiful porcelain artwork of her own, bonding it to a well-chosen item of street furniture, before delicately etching a miasma of graffiti-pen marks around the plaque's contour.
Our street gallery at N15, London, has seen the first artwork created by NeSpoon in a major metropolis. We are lucky.
And perhaps to summarise the emotions of a fantastic five days spent in her company, we should look to Gerhard Richter himself, when he said 'Art is the highest form of hope'.
TAG are creating a short film on NeSpoons artwork.
We would like to thank Community First for funding this extension to our Roof Garden Project.
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