Beyond The Streets London is the UK’s largest ever exhibition of street art and it’s at the Saatchi Gallery now
From defiant train writers to powerful large-scale muralists, over 100 international artists are featured in the most comprehensive graffiti and street art exhibition to open in the UK. Saatchi Gallery’s Beyond The Streets London features new works, large-scale installations, original ephemera and extraordinary fashion that capture the powerful impact of graffiti & street art across the world.
Curated by graffiti historian Roger Gastman, the Saatchi Gallery show examines the fundamental human need for public self-expression, highlighting artists with roots in graffiti and street art whose work has evolved into highly disciplined studio practices, alongside important cultural figures inspired by this art scene.
The exhibition explores exceptional moments in the history of this artistic movement, including the emergence of punk; the birth of hip-hop (marking its 50th anniversary in 2023) and street culture’s strong influence in fashion and film.
Upon entering the gallery, visitors will explore the graffiti-filled installation The Vandal’s Bedroom by American artist Todd James, whose works have been exhibited twice at the Venice Biennale.
The first chapter ‘Music & Art Converge’ explores the socio-political turmoil of the late 70s and 80s, where the decline of cities met artistic resistance, a shift which was felt in both the US and UK. Youth culture responded by painting graffiti on walls and public transport, creating art that reflected and reimagined the times in an explosion of expression on the streets. It was about identity in the face of oppression, self-awareness, and self-discovery in a moment of a depleted economic outlook.
Through music and art, London meets New York, featuring works including FUTURA2000’s legendary 30 ft. painting, made on stage with The Clash, displayed along with unparalleled contributions from Malcom McLaren, MODE2 and American photojournalist Martha Cooper. Visitors will be encouraged to browse and enjoy music at Trash Records, an interactive installation within a fully recreated record shop.
No area of Saatchi Gallery is left untouched; visitors will be immersed by works and ephemera on view across hallways, tunnels and staircases and will enter rooms exploring the birth of graffiti.
The ‘Dream Galleries’ focus on a selection of American and European originators, photo documentarians and cultural icons who helped contextualise and spread graffiti culture around the world. In André Saraiva’s Dream series, there is a visual articulation of how graffiti, street art, hip-hop, punk, fashion and break-dancing all sprung from the late 1970s and early 1980s into the 90s and today, and became a hybrid celebration of underground culture. The ‘Legends’ chapter presents icons such as legendary NYC artist Eric Haze, a torch bearer for generations to come; a new large-scale painting by abstract expressionist artist José Parlá; advertisement posters by KAWS, a prominent creative force; and unique ephemera by Keith Haring, one of the most popular street artists of the 1980s.
The ‘Blockbusters’ chapter will include works commissioned specifically for this exhibition by graffiti trailblazers Shepard Fairey, LA-based activist, and FAILE, a Brooklyn based artistic duo taking over the streets of NYC since the late 90s.
‘Larger Than Life’ includes a site-specific large-scale installation by LA-based icon Kenny Scharf who will present the largest to date Cosmic Cavern; an immersive and interactive installation consisting of Day-Glo paintings, ephemera, and reused materials found in the streets of LA. This chapter will also feature the signature puppet characters made from recycled materials by Paul Insect, one of London’s original street art pioneers.
‘Timeline’ takes a deep dive into street culture history through archival photography, ephemera and fashion to contextualize the cross-pollination of influences across music, fashion and film. This chapter will also include a large wall vinyl by infamous feminist collective Guerrilla Girls – a deliberate nod to the fact that most street and graffiti artists, and indeed most well-known artists in contemporary art overall are men.
The closing chapters consist of ‘Social Commentary: Graffiti as a message’; ‘Art with Conscience’ containing works by hip-hop pioneer Fab 5 Freddy, and; ‘Consideration Into Innovation’ showcasing Lisbon-based artist, VHILS, who innovatively utilizes repurposed materials to reimagine city walls.
To 9 May; saatchigallery.com
See more what’s on here.