Celebrated street artists from around the world, including Banksy, Blek Le Rat and ROA, will be displaying their works at an exhibition in Shoreditch this Friday.
The Urban Masters show at the Opera Gallery will feature creations by 33 international and local urban artists asked to devise their own tributes to great artists and works of art from the past.
Florie-Ann Mondolini, curator at the Opera Gallery, said: “We asked them to make a piece that was their personal homage to either a master of the history of art, or a masterpiece, or a muse.’’
The exhibition will be seen as another important step on the path of such individuals to being taken seriously as contemporary artists, whose works are now commanding large sums at auction.
“Obviously there is the Banksy fame that is playing a big part in London,” said Mondolini. “Our clients are really interested in street art as an investment.”
“You can show modern artists next to Picasso and it does not clash, so the public just responds to this very naturally. They don’t see it as vandalism at all but really more as art.”
Other participants in Urban Masters include Shepard Fairey, who recently had a solo exhibition at the Stolen Space Gallery off Brick Lane, as well as a pop-up shop for his Obey Giant clothing line. The majority of artists are submitting entirely new work created for the show.
Alternative London street art tour guide, Doug Gillen, said the exhibition showed street art was adaptable.
“It shows that street art is not just confined into one particular style of stencilling or graft. If you can conceptualize something, it will work.”
Urban Masters has been co-curated by Butterfly, an arts journalist and film-maker close to the street art world.
Butterfly said: “Street art is a gift to the community and for the general public to enjoy. But it is also natural for artists to transition from the streets to galleries for their fans and collectors.”
The gallery, based in Bond Street, chose not to disclose the show’s location in Shoreditch until one week prior to the private viewing. “We want to keep it edgy and a little bit underground,” Mondolini said. “People are calling every day trying to be added to the guest list for the opening night.”
A catalogue featuring works from the show will be sold for £10 at the venue with all proceeds going to Anti-Slavery International.
Aidan McQuade, director of Anti-Slavery International said: “The Opera Gallery, along with many of the street artists of London, have picked up this issue [of contemporary slavery] and are doing what artists do be: forcing society to look at the things that it doesn’t want to see.”
The charity organisation recently collaborated with the Opera Gallery on the ‘Follow Your Street Art’ auction.
The exhibition will be open to the public from November 9-18 at Factory 7, 13 Hearn Street, Shoreditch, London EC2A 3LS.