In conversation with David Bray

March 25th, 2015

StolenSpace Gallery proudly displays ‘Wrong Turn’ a solo exhibition by London-based artist David Bray. Bray’s inspiration for this exhibition developed when traveling around America and meeting a man named Yossarian who helped and enthused Bray with ‘Wrong Turn’. A warped sense of humour and tone of voice is evident through his work, using basic drawing tools, such as pens, pencils and paper, Bray creates delicate and time consuming drawings which explore emotion, utopia and a world of fantasy through his subject matter.

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SS: With your father working at the Royal Academy of Arts, you grew up amid art and creativity. How was your relation to the art world and in what way did it influence your choices? Did you ever feel overwhelmed?

DB: Growing up I was pretty much surrounded by art and artists. I didn’t really know any different. As a kid you’d meet someone, and it was just a funny man with blonde hair and round glasses. I didn’t particularly know about their reputations or what they did, or particularly care. I would have been more interested in the Smurfs and the 6 million dollar man turning up at the house. I was always drawing, and knew I wanted to do something creative. That I ended up at art-college doing graphic design. I don’t think I was much of a designer – more interested in what I was into rather than trying to impart information on somebody else’s behalf.

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SS: Do you have any particular artists who influenced or inspired your work more than others? In which way?

DB: There are loads. Some are for stylistic reasons, others for subject, maybe just colour palette. The main one though I guess is Helmut Newton. Everything he has ever done is there: Beauty, humour, darkness, and a narrative.

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SS: Where do your characters come from? Are the ladies you depict in your work taken from reality?

DB: From reality, from life drawing, from art, from photography – wherever is necessary to get it looking right. I think I hoped that the drawing would be at such a level that you stop noticing the drawing and start noticing the humour or questioning what’s going on with the subjects, what their story is.

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SS: Your works are mainly delicate and beautiful drawings. Can you explain more about this choice and the path that lead you to that? Can you tell us more about your style and the technique you use?

DB: Its weird, I have never seen them as delicate. You know me, I am not a particularly delicate person and I certainly don’t look very delicate. I’m more of a bumblebee than a butterfly. However I guess the fine line work and detailing is quite fragile. I tend to use pen/pencil, whatever I have to hand. The nature of whichever pen I’m using tends to dictate the line. I was very short of funds for a while, so I started using the free biros from bookies. I like the idea that from something quite utilitarian you can create something unique and beautiful and otherworldly and fantastical. Its always been a part of what I do – cheap felt tips and jotter pads from the corner shop, free biros, avoiding the art shop but trying to create something ‘classical’. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. However it is all about playing and having fun and not getting stuck in a rut.

I guess if I just had big chisel markers I’d be trying to create a fluid line with that the new pieces for ‘Wrong Turn’ are more graphic but I hope that the line used has the same flow. I’m not even sure I’m answering the question any more! The lines I create are just the lines that come out. Drawing is not a very conscious thing. The less I think about it while I do it the better it appears to work.

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SS: Is there any message behind your work that you want to communicate?

DB: Be excellent to each other.

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SS: Some of your artworks show dark elements. Is this related to life’s dark side in general or is there any hint to personal experience?

DB: My life has generally been a candy floss funfair, no darkness here. I think growing up in suburban London in the 1970′s and 1980′s has scarred me. Everything seemed normal on the surface, but just underneath bubbling away was always the threat of latent violence and being behind closed doors in these places everyone was a bit fucking odd. There were only 2 and a half TV channels and no internet. Computers were the size of buses and not for the likes of us – so there was more opportunity for idle hands to get busy.

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SS: Do you listen to music while you draw? Do you have an artist/ band/ genre that inspire you more?

DB:I always listen to music. No particular band or genre – depends on my mood when I get up. On rotation right now is the soundtrack to ‘only lovers left alive’. I am quite lucky, I used to do a lot of music stuff for bands and get sent stuff for free. A couple of labels couldn’t pay but send all their new stuff. I like getting music in the post. I’d prefer being able to pay the bills, but music in the post is good. Like Christmas every month.

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SS: Last year you spent few weeks on a trip getting lost in America. Can you tell us more about it, any interesting and exciting adventures?

DB: I went with Georg Lubitzer. He was off to the states because he wanted to record the sound of car tyres on American soil for a project he is working on. I didn’t ask why, but I’m always glad to be on board. We are very poor at orientation and took a few wrong turns. One in particular that led us up a mountain to a small encampment / community. At first there was a bit of suspicion with the hint of hostility but I think when they realised we were not the C.I.A or a couple of European idiots it was an interesting week. They introduced me to the illuminatus trilogy amongst other things and when we left handed us a list that we needed to use in our next respective projects. I’ve stayed true to the promise I rashly made.

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SS: You also mentioned the encounter with a character who gave you a list of things you should use in your work. It sounds as a magical encounter with a mysterious and mystical creature. Can you reveal more about both the character and the list?

DB: The main man up the mountain was calling himself Yossarian. He was the most ‘alive’ person I have ever met. He seemed genuinely interested in the things we were up to in our everyday lives. I’m not sure he thought too much about a lot of what I’d been up to, and said he would create a list of elements that I had to use to ‘open the gate that I found myself barred by’. He was very insistent and I was drawn in and fell right in line. So this is why the show looks like it does. Each piece has what looks like randomly placed elements, but these are actually placed specifically to map star constellations. These constellations contain a message from earth to the universe (so I’m told, and who am I to argue. I’m not going to argue with the universe. I’m from Bromley) there are many other codas that I barely understand / understood but visually they work and make a cohesive show so I think I followed the right

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SS: Can you tell us more about your ‘Wrong Turn’ show at StolenSpace Gallery?

DB: Everything is painted on found boards and framed in reclaimed timber. The paint used was found while clearing my father’s garage – the same with the brushes. The list that Yos wrote, the first 3 lines were ‘find wood’ ‘find paint’ ‘find brushes’. Within a week of returning home all this stuff had appeared, previously hidden but now ready and available. This made me feel quite weird to be honest. For every influence I told him I was currently into he wrote a ‘counterpoint’, with versus against it. So if I said ‘Eric Stanton’ he wrote ‘versus Eric gill’ and so on. So the drawings became a blend of these elements and subjects. The show is called ‘wrong turn’ because without the error in direction none of this would have happened.

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SS: Any plans for the future you can share with us?

DB: Looking for this gate that will apparently open up.

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Vinnie nylon solo exhibition “Nylonatronic”

March 20th, 2015

March 21, 2015 – April 19

Vinnie Nylon will be having his first Japanese solo show entitled “Nylonatronic” this month at Wish-Less gallery in Tokyo (5-12-10 Tabata Kita-ku Tokyo)

Among the work featured in the show are icons of consumer culture that have been reinterpreted and given his own personal twist

Here’s a sneak of whats in store, any enquiries please contact us on: contact@stolenspace.com

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Pixel Pancho: New mural in London!

March 11th, 2015

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Pixel Pancho is back in London where he just finished working on this stunning mural, organised by Global Street Art and Forest Recycling Project as part of the Colour the Capital project.

It only took two days for the artist to complete this wall ahead of his upcoming show ‘Memory Of Our Life’ which opens this Thursday.

For his first exhibition in London, Pixel Pancho will be transforming Gallery Two with an immersive installation which will transport viewers into a surreal robotic environment.

Photo’s courtesy of Julie, check back to stay up to date on Pixel Pancho’s upcoming show

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Beau Stanton: ‘Polychromasia’ Tonight

March 5th, 2015

Beau Stanton’s Polychromasia pop up exhibition curated by Lori Zimmer opens tonight in NY at the Library at Hudson Hotel (356 W 58th Street).

Here’s a sneak of whats in store, any enquiries please contact us on: contact@stolenspace.com

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In conversation with MEGGS

February 28th, 2015

StolenSpace Gallery proudly presents ‘Rise & Fall‘ a satirical solo exhibition by Los Angeles-based artist MEGGS. Following his residency and sold-out show at Inner State Gallery in Detroit last September, where he painted his largest mural to date at over 6,000 square feet, MEGGS continues his perpetual fascination with dualism, urban decay, and finding beauty in tragedy. We caught up with MEGGS at his ‘Rise & Fall’ show, which explores current fractures in the social fabric of urban society, such as imploding over-indulgence, fallen idols, and the detriments of pop culture.

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SS: You are a founding member of the Everfresh Crew from Melbourne. How does it feel being part of a collective of street art pioneers?

Everfresh was something that happened organically when a group of artists started sharing a warehouse studio. It grew into a collective as we started hanging out, collaborating, and doing street art missions together.

We never really had any intentions for it, it just grew into something more significant because all of us were hard working and it was a unique situation to have several street/graffiti artists in one space, collaborating on street works. We may have made a lasting impression because of the mixture of unique styles and the amount of work we put up consistently, as a group and as individuals. In retrospect, I’m thankful for having those years and partnerships, which shaped me into a legit full-time artist. It’s amazing that we could be so influential in the Melbourne scene, and contribute to the growth of Australian Street Art culture in general. I definitely wouldn’t have learnt so much about painting and making art, or have met so many dynamic people over the years if I wasn’t a part of Everfresh.

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SS: Your bio says that “your life manifesto is that the ‘journey is the reward’”. What do you mean? How does this statement reflect in your work?

I believe that being an artist is a lifetime journey of continual growth and that the freedom and experiences I can have along the way are the most rewarding part of doing what I do. It’s hard work to make a living as an artist, so it’s easy to forget to appreciate the people and life experiences I have. I try to remind myself of this and not get too distracted by material gains. I feel that this transfers to my work by trying to continually evolve and improve, and hope that each body of work is influenced by my experiences and the places in which they are shown.

Specifically, for ‘Rise & Fall,’ we created banners one night at the gallery with a good crew of people (shout outs: Miya, Louis, Andy, Lee, Jarus), just having some fun experimenting with the fire. Working with other people, sharing stories and ideas is what is rewarding for me and I think it adds something to the story and meaning of the work being created.

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SS: You believe that art is an international language and a universal avenue for the free expression of creative ideas’. Do you think that art can change something in the world? Can it affect people’s conscience?

Art, especially public art, can affect people’s consciences and ideally make them a part of their surroundings and community. It also simply just spreads the idea of creative expression and colour to the world.

In my experience, art is a powerful way to bring like-minded people together worldwide and I believe it can contribute to positive social change. It’s important for us to value creativity and individual expression, as well as reflect on and document people and culture.

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SS: Talking about your technique and style, you combine different influences and mix skillfully street art and fine art. Can you tell us more about your creative process and the progression of your style?

Thanks! My creative process is a combination of illustration, sourced imagery, collages, and painting using screenprinting, inks, aerosol, and acrylics. I’m constantly collecting and storing source material. When I have an idea in mind, I start playing with different elements and create illustrations and a collage composition that I will paint from.

I begin with a black and white illustration/composition and build the colours and textures during the painting process. Its important to me to have a plan but also partly leave the development of the final piece to intuition and experimentation.

Essentially my process is a continual search for the balance between form & abstraction. Which is also an important part of the ‘journey being the reward.’

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SS: What is your inspiration behind your work? What are the themes you are interested in investigating?

The idea and inspiration can come from various sources, from a combination of ideas I have about life and society, down to something as simple as a photo I saw or movie I watched. Obviously duality is at the core of most of my work, especially the idea of conflicting roles (i.e. hero vs. villain). I work with the idea of heroism and role models as an ongoing theme, partly inspired by comic book narratives. A large part of the inspiration for future pieces comes purely from the process of making work and being excited by new techniques and the development of my work. I think one of the most important things for an artist is just to continually be creating and trying new things.

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SS: What was the most exciting thing that happened to you during the last year?

One of the standouts for me last year was doing a residency in Detroit, which allowed me to first-hand experience of the extreme rise, fall, and regrowth of one of America’s most significant cities. It was definitely an inspiration in the direction of my work and the exploration of duality, opposite extremes, and consumer culture. This led to my 6,000 square foot ‘Rise Up’ mural for the city – my largest solo artistic undertaking to date, and a satisfying personal milestone.

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SS: Can you tell us more about your exhibition ‘Rise & Fall’ at StolenSpace Gallery?

‘Rise & Fall’ is a continuation of the themes and pieces I worked on in Detroit. With this show, I had a slightly more playful take on consumerism gone wrong and focused on my fascinations with duality and beauty that is found in the decay of pop-culture icons, heroes, and the values that they represent.

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SS: What are your future projects, plans and upcoming exhibitions?

This year I am working on several new murals, brand collaborations and group shows. I am painting at SXSW in Austin with Pow! Wow! Hawaii in March & Seawalls: Mexico with PangeaSeed in July. My next solo show is with Thinkspace Gallery at the LA Municipal Art Center in October, as part of the larger ‘Beyond Eden’ multi-gallery Event.

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MEGGS: Rise & Fall

February 11th, 2015

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StolenSpace Gallery presents ‘Rise & Fall’ a satirical solo exhibition by Los Angeles-based artist MEGGS. Following his residency and sold-out show at Inner State Gallery in Detroit last September, where he painted his largest mural to date at over 6,000 square feet, MEGGS continues his perpetual fascination with dualism, urban decay, and finding beauty in tragedy. ‘Rise & Fall’ toys with current fractures in the social fabric of urban society, such as imploding over-indulgence, fallen idols, and the detriments of pop culture.

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Saatchi Gallery: ‘Pop The Streets’

February 10th, 2015

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StolenSpace artists Alo and Ben Turnbull (who has a forthcoming solo show in April) are both showing in ‘Pop The Streets’ at the Saatchi Gallery. An Urban and Street Art spectacle, The Saatchi Gallery is exhibition of works by 10 contemporary graffiti and street artists from around the world. The show will illustrate the influence how the Pop Art movement has influenced the work of these artists.

For more information on Ben Turnbull’s work, and show, please email: contact@stolenspace.com

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In conversation with Snik

February 3rd, 2015

Fascinated by their intricate stencil based works, we couldn’t miss a chance to know more about artist duo Snik and their work. We caught up with them ahead of their exhibition titled ‘Shadow Aspect’; their debut solo at StolenSpace Gallery.

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SS: Let’s start from the beginning, from the birth of Snik. You are a duo but you didn’t start together. Can you tell us how your name came about, how you originally started and how you came to work together?

NIK: I started painting from a young age, growing up as a skater it was impossible to not have some influence of hip-hop, and then graffiti around me. Where i’m from isn’t anywhere close to a city vibe, its all very small town. Because of this, it was really tough to get into crews, or have people to paint with, and back then the internet wasn’t around so it was a case of just do what felt right. I discovered stencil work from just creating a tool to re-create some work for a college project. It was only when i travelled around to other countries that i realised there was a whole scene around this technique. Laura has always been painting also, but some how we missed each other for a while, it was only until 2010 when we met that the concept of a painting duo came around. It really helps, especially with large scale works on the street. We both have a very different approach to painting, i prefer quick and raw styles, whereas Laura has a very precise and planned approach. When combined it works out pretty nice, and especially with stencils gives a different approach to others.

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SS: Why did you decide to paint in the street?

Street work was always a priority for us both. When we started there was never a thought that we could make a living from selling work, it was just a nice by-product that people liked our work enough that they would hang it in their home. Street work has a lot of energy to it, and also it evolves which something that canvas and studio work doesn’t have.

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SS: What is your inspiration behind your work? How do you choose the subjects you depict?

We take inspiration from everything, not just one direct thing. Obviously we have influence from certain styles of painting, in the use of light and colour, but everything else is just a natural evolution to how we are feeling at the time and what we feel like painting. Our subjects always have an anonymous appearance, and are mostly female. This isn’t a statement, or a message, it’s just our personal opinion sways towards this aesthetic more. There is an element of hidden identity in the pieces, lately a lot of faces are covered, either by hair or by shadow, so it gives people a lot to contemplate when they view it, but we don’t force a direct narrative on the viewer.

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SS: How do you choose the urban spots where you paint? Is there any relation between the place where you paint and the characters you portray?

We always prefer to paint slightly downbeat spots, either places that are forgotten, or have just seen better days. It gives a real nice balance between the detail in our work, compared to the surrounding. It’s always nice for people to discover something people value in a place they never expected it.

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SS: Your many layered stencils are very intricate and detailed and reach high levels of realism. We are curious to know more about the process of creation of your work, your technique, style and progression.

There are many stencil artists out there, so in order to try to stand out, you have to do something different. It’s taken a long time, and endless hours of cutting to get to our level now. Progression is always the forefront of our method, we try to have every new piece to be better than the last. Sometimes this means cutting more detail in, or painting with a different approach. Lately we have reduced our style down, keeping it to strong black and a bold subject. We used to throw every sort of background element at the piece, but in the end the final subject got a bit watered down. Our style has pretty much always been Chiaroscuro, so to make that point even stronger we now just keep it simple black, and a strong use of colour on the subject. We have plenty of plans to the future, but it’s important for us to retain a strong aesthetic. 

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SS: What is the difference between painting outside on a wall or any urban medium and inside on a canvas or reclaimed objects such as cardboard? Which one of the two do you prefer?

When we paint in the studio, we paint exactly the same as we would on the street, this is very important to us. Some artists almost have 2 styles, one a street side, and then a studio side – and you wouldn’t recognise they are the same artist. It’s very important for us to keep the energy when we paint in the studio, the speed, the spontaneous elements and the random approach that comes from painting on the street. As far as surfaces to paint, always prefer used object – metal, wood and especially card. they have a look and feel which is much more less sterile than a canvas. Obviously canvas has its place, especially for collectors, but we like to pose the question about what art is – is it about the work, or the surface its painted on? This is something that street art has a big part in. 

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SS: Can you tell us more about your ‘Shadow Aspect’ show at StolenSpace Gallery?

Shadow aspect is a collection of works focused on dark vs light. Not just in a painted work way, but also the subject matter and the way the works make people feel. The heavy black is not as imposing as some would think, because every piece has a bright focal point. This way the attention is drawn away from the vacant space, and instead drawn to the delicate cuts, and use of colour.

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SS: Any plans for the future you can reveal?

Get back to painting some more walls, and then starting to plan a new body and new approach to our work for 2016. With how long it takes to cut stencils, we have to plan things a long time in advance, but thats sometimes the easy part. coming up with fresh concepts and solid execution is the tricky one.

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All photo’s courtesy of Snik.

D*Face: ‘Rear View’ video

January 16th, 2015

When D*Face painted the ‘Rear View’ mural in LA!

Paul Stephenson: Laundromat (Reflection Painting)

December 13th, 2014

Paul Stephenson’s ‘Laundromat (Reflection Painting)’, part of the StolenSpace ‘Spectrum’ Group Show, has been featured in Esquire magazine:

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“The idea behind this series of paintings is to explore the dynamic between the original oil painting (the ‘art’) and the reflection (the place where it is viewed/hung) and the story that these two variables create. The reflection painting you currently have is the first of this series, the reflection is the interior of a Laundromat in Chinatown, New York City 2014. In the reflection you can see the owner of the Laundromat and his wife at work below the fluorescent lights of their Laundromat. This scene is superimposed onto the oil painting, a French landscape painted in 1843 showing nuns collecting sheaves of wheat from the fields as the sun fades. The two images contrast interior and exterior, contemporary and pre-industrial, but they also share similarities, the subjects of both images are people and both are scenes of workplaces. The narratives of both original oil painting and reflection run together to create a new story. The viewer of this painting sees the painted reflection and is made aware of their own reflection, their own experience as a viewer, they become part of the picture and part of the story.”

- Paul Stephenson

Some of Paul Stephenson’s work can be seen and bought from the StolenSpace online store here.

For more info email contact@stolenspace.com