Gone are the days when street art was considered to be the pursuit of mindless vandals. Nowadays people travel in their droves to see the finest forms of urban art, not just on the city streets but in galleries, where artists from all across the world have evolved to present paintings, works on canvas and sculpture. Here, Culture Trip selects some of the best galleries championing graffiti in London.
Howard Griffin looks beyond the well-trodden paths of London and New York to exhibit artists from across the globe. Among these are famed French street artist Thierry Noir, the muralist Phlegm and Mehdi Ghadyanloo, a young Iranian artist who spent the length of the Iraq-Iran war living on a farm. Ghadyanloo’s paintings of desolate landscapes examine ideas around utopian visions, and his public art is well recognised in Tehran, where he painted over 100 murals over the course of seven years.
Based in Stoke Newington, East London’s Hang-Up Gallery boasts an impressive list of artists including KAWS, The Connor Brothers, Harland Miller, Johnathan Reiner and Swoon. The gallery also prides itself on its extensive Banksy print holdings and features a ‘Banksy bunker’ in the building’s basement. The ever-changing exhibition programme also showcases up-and-coming talent, which makes it a perfect place to discover new artists.
Located just a few steps from Piccadilly, Lazinc Sackville is the brainchild of Steve Lazarides, perhaps best known for launching Banksy’s international career. The gallery (formerly Lazarides) employs the catch-all term ‘urban art’ to encompass its huge remit and represents a carefully curated roster of artists, from paste-up superstar JR who created an epic installation for the opening of the new Mayfair gallery to established portraitist Jonathan Yeo. The gallery also hosts a permanent satellite space dedicated to prints by Banksy, which opened on the Southbank in 2016.
Founded by the graffiti artist who shares its name, Pure Evil was born out of a successful temporary exhibition in 2006. Far from being a traditional white cube, this gallery has expanded into the clothing market and encompasses a second ‘department store’ space on the same Shoreditch street. The brand has gone even further in recent years, producing its own music and monthly radio show. In the original space expect to find the bright, neon paintings and stencils that made the artist famous, as well as works by other urban artists such as Eine, Roa and Barry McGee.
As a gallery devoted to artists “influenced by life’s prevailing subcultures”, StolenSpace exhibits works by graffiti artists, graphic artists, sculptors and painters in its 1,000-square-foot (92.9-square-metre) premises at the south end of Brick Lane. It often investigates the axis where underground art production meets conventional practices, such as abstraction and minimalism. The result is an ever-changing programme of innovative artists such as Gary Stranger, known for his beautiful typography, and Haroshi, who creates sculptures from discarded skateboards.
With gallery sites in Shoreditch and (much farther north) in Crouch End, Jealous presents solo and group exhibitions based around works that have been produced at the gallery’s print studios, as well as supporting an impressive series of collaborative enterprises. These include the Jealous Needs You project, which uses an open submission process in order to select emerging artists, designers and illustrators for new editions, and the Jealous Prize, which awards MA graduates from leading London art colleges the opportunity to develop a print to be sold at the galleries.
The leafy streets of West London might seem like an unlikely place for a street art gallery, but Graffik has enjoyed considerable success from its location on Ladbroke Grove. Represented artists include Stik, who creates enormous stick figures that originated on the streets of East London, but can now be seen in communities worldwide. He was even commissioned by Hackney Council to create the official Pride 2016 banner, which was later auctioned at Christie’s for charity. The gallery also includes secondary sales by the likes of Basquiat and Warhol, and also runs a series of graffiti workshops.