I had first heard of Mr Brainwash through the Banksy’s documentary ‘Exit through the gift shop’, and, on a trip to the big smoke last week, thought I’d pop in to his first solo London exhibition and see what the hype was all about.
Mr. Brainwash is the moniker of Los Angeles-based filmmaker and Pop artist Thierry Guetta. He has spent the better part of the last decade attempting to make the ultimate street art documentary. Meanwhile, inspired by his subjects, he started hitting the streets, from Los Angeles to Paris, with spray painted stencils and posters of his pop art inspired images.
There is a strong Pop Art theme running through the show, alongside the icon of the spray can. The finest example of this is the parody of Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup cans, Mr Brainwash has cleverly made the soup can in to a spray can. Clever huh?
Huge paint pots, paint splattered horses, the Queen, a London cab, huge artwork and tonnes of tongue in cheek imagery (the Beatles with Kiss style make-up anyone?) are amongst the other exhibits on display. The scale and sheer amount of imagery on show in the disused Old Sorting Office near the British Museum is unlike any exhibition i’d seen before. The space literally acted as the canvas to Mr Brainwash’s over-sized ideas, there was a huge amount to see and the people there seemed to love it.
I’m not sure that included me though. I get it; it’s big, bright, fun, upbeat, quirky, thoroughly British, add you get a free poster and spray paint can – oh and it’s free to get in. But at the risk of sounding like a boring old fart I just didn’t get the hype. Nothing’s new, it’s just bigger and there’s more of it. I love Pop Art, and clever little gimmicks but this seemed a little weak and try hard for me. Despite this, the whole scale, situation and size makes it different and something you need to see for yourself to make your own mind up.
And there’s still time – the exhibition runs until 7 September, at The Old Sorting Office and the corner of New Oxford Street and Museum Street.