Gentrified Graffiti

Welcome back to #ArtThursday! 

  A & C, aerosol on canvas. Sauce, 2014.

This week I want to about graff and galleries. For some time now, Sauce has been painting smaller graffiti pieces on canvas. Some of these works have won awards and hung in fine galleries, and others now live in suburban lounge-rooms, which strikes the question: Does graffiti belong in the gallery?


The short answer is yes. Graffiti, aerosol art and street art are legitimate art forms and are definitely a part of the urban expression and deserve a place in our galleries, museums and cultural homes. 


De-stagnate, aerosol on canvas. Sauce, 2013

But… What is this doing to the art form and culture of graffiti and what about it’s rebellious roots in railways and razor wire? By removing the art form it’s ‘natural habitat’ are we devaluing and watering down it’s effects and messages? What is the state of the wider culture of hip hop, when a piece of pastiche and derivative stencil art piece can command a small fortune*? 


There is no short or easy answer to the problems of gentrified graffiti, however it does allow artists to expand their repertoire and practice their skills. Essentially, this cultural shift of graffiti in galleries commands artists to delve further into their arts practice and hone their craft, and at the very least, it allows the graffiti artist to escape the authorities one more time. 




Something Sweet, aerosol on canvas. Sauce, 2013


*I could delve further into this and explain it in terms of Bourdieu and maybe even Simmel but who’s got time for that?


Welcome to #artthursday! Now that I (Ainslie Rose) have editorial control over the blog (mwahaha!) I thought I would start a series which investigates the culture and practise of aerosol art. Each Thursday, I’ll talk about the different aspects of aerosol art and delve into the culture of graffiti. To start with, I’ll begin with the Blackbook.
The Blackbook in it’s simplest form is a sketchbook. It’s a dedicated book used by artists to mill over ideas and plan out designs. The exterior is usually plain black, hence the term Blackbook. They can be easily obtained from a newsagent or office supply store and usually have unlined white pages with a thicker GSM. Some aerosol paint brands associated with graffiti culture such as Montana/ MTN and Montana Colors  also carry a line of black books with their branding and some have the option of black pages for the use of metallic markers. The books are usually A4 in size, but larger versions are also available. As an artist, Sauce uses a standard A4 book, available from office supply stores and uses various pencil types for basic sketches and outlines in pen using Artline of Promarker for more complex and interesting designs. When Sauce is working on designs for clients, he prefers to keep the details simple and rarely uses colour. 
All very exciting facts, but it’s the little details which build the culture. The Blackbook (which I’ve written about before) is definitively more than a few doodles on a page and it’s more than vandals planning their next attack. Sketches are mindful mediations which are documented and journaled in the Blackbook  and it is this mindfulness which gives meaning to the graffiti piece. Now, through the mighty powers of social media, artists are sketching pieces and battling for supremacy with other artists all over the globe. When Sauce first stared dabbling and experimenting with Graff, he had a chance encounter with an old school writer, who gave him a quick sketch in Sauce’s Blackbook and it was this organic collaboration which sparked something inside Sauce and spurned him to improve his skills. It’s this type of sharing and creative process which forms the backbone of artist’s creative concepts and ideas.