Street-style murals make a successful foray into Hong Kong gallery
Presenting street art in a formal setting seems to defeat the spontaneous and rebellious intention of the original, but SoHo exhibition Hidden Street, with its temporary art painted on a gallery's walls, is a success
Street art is best seen in its ephemeral form: a surprise on a back lane, precariously waiting for an officious street cleaner, outraged property owner and the weather to remove it.
Likewise, street art seen in a formal gallery setting seems to defeat the spontaneous and rebellious intention of the street original. Hidden Street, a group exhibition of nine artists at Pearl Lam Galleries SoHo, thankfully, does not present any framed street art - a cop-out to the genre. Instead, the gallery walls have been painted with temporary street-style murals. The result is a success, as they feed off the gritty ambience flowing from the Sai Ying Pun back alley on which the gallery is situated.
The best mural is Peter Yuill's heraldic and Masonic-like, but actually Viking-inspired, eagle, whose chest-inserted eye has an uncanny watchfulness as viewers walk around the gallery.
Adjacent is a larger two-wall work, a collaboration of five artists, in a swirl of red, white and blue, that has old tong lau, trees and manic Hong Kong street activity sweeping into an imagined drain hole.
Sinic replicates the aesthetic of decrepit mottled walls seen in Hong Kong's older areas by painting a large wall-scape, then adding stenciled text, in the style of commonly seen drainage/sewerage repair signs.
The reputation of street art suffers because of the scourge and banality of tagging, but is redeemed by the commissioning of elaborate murals for cafe courtyards, security shutters and shop gates. A handy map is available of nine outdoor street murals done by participating artists that can be seen in the area.
Street stickers are quick and easy to produce. Mapping societal changes and youth fashion, stickers - as was seen during the umbrella movement - are street art's notice board. Some examples are also on display at the gallery.
Hidden Street, Pearl Lam Galleries SoHo, Ends September 11