Street art is appreciated by the young and those hungry for something anti-establishment. Artists in this genre go by their TAG name and never show their face for obvious reasons. There is something exciting, fresh and subversive about following this kind of art. Last May 16th on the Lower East Side, Krause Gallery held the first US show “Pipe Dreams” for Brooklyn based street artist duo Sheryo and the Yok.
I was clued in by Benjamin Krause, proprietor of the eponymous gallery bearing his last name, late March that this is one of his most important and must see shows. When he mentioned that his basement space would be transformed into an opium den, it was a no brainer to sign me up and I’ll be back for a review. I had imagined that it will be grungy and all over the place with street art but was surprised that the works were cleanly presented, commercially viable and smartly done when I walked into the space for the opening reception.
Taken from their nomadic travels In Asia, thrown in with inside jokes, and images evoking their cartoon-inflected style made their collaborative effort quite successful. I especially noted the one color blue used in the plates and vases evoked Dutch Delft ceramic upon first glance. However, you look closer and got the full effect with their wry take on icons of New York culture or revisions of traditional Chinese folklore and do I see a Geisha in there? With this mish-mash of culture and symbols , where is the defined line? Actually – the lines are blurred and that is the point why this tandem produced the work they did. Clarity and definition is not the main focus here as both ideas and skills meld into a metaphysical representation. Smoking any kind of pipe can induce you into a haze and what a different world that could be whether you are dreaming it or not.
As for the opium den, I was of course disappointed to learn from Benjamin that logistics found it impossible to stage a bed, curtains, and the whole ambient environment for the opening. Perhaps when the frenzy settles down, he should put it up anyway. But there are more spray painted images and a travelogue wall of photos from their journey instead that mollified the dashed dreams of being in a den of iniquity. Smelling the waft of incense that night to hide the spray paint odor worked out in a serendipitous manner. It’s the kind of smoke that seamlessly fits into the whole theme and the cops won’t raid it.
It was young, fresh, and skating on danger but the work was skillfully done by Sheryo and the Yok. It was smart to use a single color and that choice made their art elevated. It was easier to focus on the content and had it been in a full spectrum of color, we might have needed to smoke something to focus on one thing. Street art has invaded the gallery and it is here to stay. So stick that in your pipe because when there’s smoke on the Lower East Side – there’s art to explore!
Sheryo and the Yok: “Pipe Dreams” / On View: May 16 – June 16, 2013
Gallery Hours: Wed-Sun (12 – 6 pm) Mon & Tue by appointment
Krause Gallery. 149 Orchard Street. NYC, NY 10002
art review by: Oscar A. Laluyan
select image from Krause Gallery courtesy of the artists
event photography by: Max Noy