In a world obsessed with celebrity, decadence and above all, the pound sign, the figure of the incognito artist, inconspicuously marring the streets with their expression, whilst placing the upmost importance on disclosure of identity, is subversively novel, and kinda cool in a criminal-with-a-heart sort of way. The twenty first century has graffiti artist Banksy, covertly painting London (and Europe’s) streets with his uniquely satirical art, but there’s someone who’s been around for much longer, an equally as clandestine individual, the infamous Richard Hambleton.
If you’re too young to know his name, you’re definitely not too young to know his legacy; police chalk outlines on NYC’s paved streets in the late 70’s, alongside suspect red dashes of paint, which more than disconcerted pedestrians and passers-by. And there was the slighty abstract ‘shadow men’ looming ominously on the sides of buildings in shady streets, standing, watching, almost provoking the public. For a good while no one knew his name, his Mr Hyde-esque figure kept well under wraps while he continued to cover the streets in his beautiful, provocative pieces.
Fittingly named the “godfather of street art”, Richard Hambleton continued in his quest, although predictably a couple of journalists clocked onto his identity and he was propelled (probably uncomfortably) into the spotlight, where he has remained for twenty or so years. That brings us to the present day, where his travelling exhibition comes to London. How very exciting! Between the dates of 17th November – 3rd December, an exhibition curated by Vladimir Restoin-Roitfeld (who happens to be none other than the French vogue editor’s son) and Andy Valmorbida, and also sponsored by the fashion giants Giorgio Armani, in an as yet unknown location, the complete works of Hambleton will be displayed.
- Maria Long