May 31, 2012

OakOak "892 Miles" at The Outsiders Newcastle

892 Miles

1st June – 7th
July 2012 (Private View 6-9pm Thursday 31st May)

Pen-pusher by day, street art superhero by night – St Etienne sensation OakOak is coming to Newcastle courtesy of The Outsiders, the emerging art gallery from Lazarides. OakOakʼs hilarious, imaginative, irreverent and sometimes a little macabre, street work has filled column inches from BBC Brazil to Beijingʼs biggest daily newspaper. Itʼs sat pretty on the top spot of ʻThe best of...ʼ for four months. Daubing simple graffiti and paintings on urban features (often the broken ones) OakOak does what street art does best – amuse and inspire people of all ages and demographics by appropriating the cityʼs less appealing elements.

OakOak is a street artist, but he is not a fine artist painting in public. His work, either on the streets of his native St Etienne, France, or made on his travels, is opportunistic and never ʻauthorisedʼ. He is completely untrained in art and works full-time in an office. Whilst his favourite artist is Amedeo Modigliani, he cites his main influences as football, comic books, video games and his home town. “I like this city, her atmosphere,” OakOak says of Saint Etienne, “and I wanted it to look nicer. It was an industrial city with many coal mines; now itʼs in regeneration and still quite poor. But itʼs easily travelled by foot with awkward aspects ideal for art. I saw shapes everywhere, and wanted to realise them.”

OakOakʼs first street piece was a stencil of the silver screen actress Louise Brookes, who he adores. His first appropriations were monsters made using fire hydrants. He is astonished that the media believe him to be an artist rather than an amateur, but he uses regular graffiti tools such as Posca pens, aerosol and acrylic paints. With a cult following online, he has never been arrested or encountered the police but has experienced “some people watching awkwardly.”

Whilst the majority of the work for the exhibition will be found out on the streets of Newcastle and Gateshead, OakOak also creates charming, accessible, ʻdomesticʼ pieces from household junk; Rainy clouds materialise from abandoned vinyl records and tape cassettes, painted skittles scream in the style of Munch, and H R Giegerʼs ʻAliensʼ are recreated using staples. These pieces will shown in the gallery alongside editioned photographs of his street interventions. Experience street art in its purest, most democratic form at The Outsiders Newcastle this Summer.

The Outsiders
77 Quayside
Newcastle upon Tyne
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