Although street art would seem to require a, uh, street, decontextualizing it can sometimes reveal new levels of meaning. Away from the city streets, Lazarides offers plenty to consider in “Still Here,” an exhibit of 41 street artists in celebration of the London gallery’s 10th anniversary. Though much of street art stems from a critique of the very capital that supports commercial galleries, this particular show comfortably inhabits that contradiction.
The three floors are overwhelmed with art. On the topmost floor is a permanent installation by Invader, a table topped with his classic alien character in mosaic tiles. The room is filled with familiar works by Banksy, such as Girl and Balloon (2004) and Precision Bombing (2000), yet it is the very recent works that are most compelling. They reflect how subtly the genre has changed and grown, and their political commentary is no longer in the act of making street art, but in its experimental forms as new venues for satire.
An Oliver Jeffers painting, Nothing to See Here Part 3 (2014), offers a beautiful critique of art history, parodying the still-life—this one with dead fish—as something less than romantic. Downstairs, the show’s only moving-image work, Karim Zeriahen’s The Arms of Unconsciousness (2016), is a fragmented series of clips from Madonna’s films and music videos. With lyrics such as “Let’s get unconscious,” “So much confusion,” and “You only see what your eyes want to see,” the montage reflects a new interpretation of “street,” this one incorporating technology, the public self, and the fragmentation of contemporary experience.
Finally, on the ground floor, the exhibit comes full circle with a new work by Invader called Ipnotic (2016), an LED image of the alien figure seen upstairs. Given that the show’s title evokes both the recent past and the current state of things, it is the timeless quality of the Miaz Brothers’ acrylics, both from 2016, that most stand out. Their paint technique lends itself to a kind of digital Impressionism. If street art began as rage against the machine, then this show charts its origins until now, when it has become rage within the machine, which by now has certainly computerized itself.
—Himali Singh Soin
“Still Here: A Decade of Lazarides” is on view at Lazarides, London, Feb. 12–Mar. 24, 2016.