Think you have to travel to a whole other country to find some premier street art? Look no further than the ArtScience Museum’s latest exhibition Art From The Streets, which collects and gathers both international street art and even some brand new pieces specially made for the exhibition within the museum’s four walls.
From the mysterious Banksy to anonymous graffiti all the way to our local ‘Sticker Lady’ Samantha Lo, street art has always been one of the most exciting, accessible art forms. Often used as a force for change or possessing underlying political messages, street art, by virtue of its form, is so powerful precisely because of its deep resonance with the masses and its demand for visibility, often with the intent to go viral and practically becoming icons in the process.
In Art From The Streets, the museum charts 40 years of street art history across the world, with both international and regional artists contributing to the exhibition. On opening day, the museum even brought together speakers from media professor Cherian George to art student and brains behind the infamous ‘golden staircase’ Priyageetha Dia, as they engaged in speeches and discussion surrounding ideas of place making, using art as a means of expression, and street art’s inherent anti-establishment qualities.
With over 40 featured artists, perhaps the biggest glaring paradox of the entire exhibition is the very fact that a number of works in the exhibition themselves have been created onsite. This begs the question of whether they can be considered ‘street art’ if artists have been invited to contribute a work, and not created organically, knowing that there are certain rules that restrict the freedom of expression so often associated with street art.
In addition, because of the ‘grungy’ nature of street art feels almost directly opposed to the cleanliness of the ArtScience Museum and its association with consumerism and tourism, making for a strange, almost clinical feel that robs many works of their full power (graffiti style works are conspicuously missing from the exhibition). One imagines that more context and photos of where and how these works looked like in their original environment would have helped with the immersive qualities of the exhibition.
Yet despite these conceptual flaws, the works that have been collected here are undeniable works of art, each one constructed carefully, be it as an intimate image made with stencil and spray paint, or even huge mixed media works that dwarf visitors with their splendour and their insistence on being seen and felt. So many of these works are powerful reminders of the underlying anger and disillusionment with society that has surged through city veins for years, while others effectively weave myth and modernity into a single piece, the city a canvas that empower these works with history and the myriad lives that have walked past each art piece.
Photos simply don’t do these works justice, and this honestly is one of the best chances within the region to catch a pretty large collection of street art that will both wow you with their quality and move you with their message. Art From The Streets is a step in the right direction for the ArtScience Museum to take a step forward and support local artists, going beyond pure commercialism into work that pushes at the very fabric of the society we live in.
Art From The Streets is on display at the ArtScience Museum till 3rd June 2018. Tickets available here