Stencil on road sign
64 x 64cm
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Marilyn Monroe
Stencil on paint tin lid
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Solo Exhibition by Pedrô!

2 July –- 16 July 2015
GRAFFIK Gallery, 284 Portobello Rd, London, W10 5TE

Obama on a coffee bag from Kenya? The art of transforming found objects (objet trouvé), either through restyling or contextualization, to produce objects of artistic value, has been practised for decades. Pablo Picasso’s Bull's Head (1942) sculpture is a prime example of this, with the artist reconstituting a discarded bicycle saddle and handlebars in creation of his signature motif. ‘Recycling’ of this kind is becoming increasingly relevant and common given our present-day consumer-driven context, in which our senses are under constant assault from advertisements and mass produced items are ceaselessly discarded. The streets which are littered with these objects and advertisements are the same places where street artists work and draw inspiration. Artists like Robert Rauschenberg collected trash and abandoned media to incorporate into his artworks. Duchamp's dignifying of commonplace objects like a urinal (Fountain, 1917) and Andy Warhol's exploration of how art, celebrity culture and advertisement converge, also spring to mind. It is against this background that UPCYCLING, a solo exhibition by street artist Pedrô!, is presented.

Born in 1960's, Pedrô! started his career in Paris in the early 90's when street crews flourished in the wake of the Art-Cloche movement ( Cf: Jean Stark, Lolochka, SP38, Elco, Braconnart). Regarded as an illegal activity, street artists were often forced to work at night and in urban wastelands (temporary autonomous zones), occasionally choosing or being forced to live with the homeless themselves. In 1991 Pedrô! joined the collective Zen Copyright, a crew formed by SP38, Ed Néant, and 12 others. The group had a common desire to create an alternative lifestyle where poetic utopias and solidarity would be the norm in ephemeral spaces. During this time Pedrô! did acrylic painting on posters which he pasted around the streets of Paris. Through his ongoing collaboration and engagement with numerous other Urban artists, Pedrô! cemented his position as a street artist, well versed in the various new techniques being employed. He had a particular interest in using his artistic skill to address social/political issues, especially relating to housing, and, with the help of politicians and actors, the crew was able to bring these issues into the spotlight.

There are no other bearable ways of living than fighting. The most beautiful human quality is to be revolutionary.” Jean-Michel MENSION (2001)

In 2002, Monsieur Delanoé, the newly elected Mayor of Paris, offered the collective the right to three shops in rue Dénoyez in the Lower Belleville area, where the group had been staying illegally for several years after being evicted in 1997 under the decentralisation policy of the École de la Rue Blanche (ENSATT). Following this the association "Friches et nous, la paix" was born, with the shop at 22bis rue Dénoyez becoming a gallery and space where artists came together to jam, make music and work. This is where new ideas were born and from where exhibitions, shows, performances and street trips were planned. The exterior wall in front of the gallery provided an outdoor presentation space for the artists to create their graffiti and street work, becoming a landmark in the Parisian street art scene. In the shop at no. 16, Pedro collaborated with portrait painter, Marie Decraene, and for several years the space was dedicated to portrait painting, becoming known as L'atelier Dorian Gray.

In order to archive his activities, the artist created his own blog in 2004, which lead to him receiving some major commissions and invites to exhibit his work. Stencilling has become his medium of choice and his unique approach consists of valorising each object by upcycling it, giving careful consideration to how the portrait relates to and becomes part of the artwork: a portrait of Sigmund Freud is depicted on pages from the Psychoanalytic Yellow pages; Andy Warhol on the back of a television set; Jimi Hendrix on a vinyl record and Obama on a coffee bag from Kenya. The process involves converting waste materials or useless items into new, valued items and reducing their environmental impact. As Pedrô! puts it:

Art is that which makes life more interesting than Art

Although his works has been seen by thousands and has been shown alongside works by other prominent street artists, like Banksy, Blek le Rat, Terry Noir, Invader, Spray YARPS, Le Bateleur, Mick (Michael JARRY), Spliff Gâchette and Pixal Parazite, Pedrô! has not yet received the recognition he deserves. This exhibition will finally shine a spotlight on his splendid body of work.

284 Portobello Road
W10 5TE

Gallery Hours: 
11am - 6.30pm Tuesday - Sunday

020 8354 3592