Street Art has been widely discussed in relation to contemporary art, especially in the last 10 years. It typically involves the creation of art outdoors, usually large in scale and in some cases without permission. Whilst Street Art is viewed as a current art form, it’s origins are older than we might first think. From Aboriginal rock art to the mosaics of Pompeii, the frescoes of the Renaissance, and even the Berlin wall – murals and street art have been a part of artistic practice for centuries.
Today, street art is no longer a space just for the emerging artist, but rightfully too for the established. On a global scale, there is no street artist more widely
recognised than Banksy. He has become an iconic name within contemporary art, with an overwhelming demand from the most esteemed collectors. Whilst many of his tradeable works are continually reaching new record prices, his street murals are to remain public – often appearing in secret overnight, clouded by mystery, and rife with political and social commentary.
The gallery space invites exclusivity and privacy, whilst street art is generally all-access. Here in Australia, E.L.K is a dominant street artist often using his art to comment on important issues in society. Famously, he created a stencil artwork on the Bondi Sea Wall titled “Welcome to Bondi”, criticising Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers in on and off-shore detention facilities. The public placement of the mural attracted heated debate and discussion, all likely part of the artist’s intention and the appeal of creating art in a public space. Like many street artists, E.L.K has experienced these two sides and two spaces of the art world. He was the first stencil artist to be awarded the Archibald
Prize for his portrayal of Father Bob Maguire. For many, this was an unexpected choice given the prize’s preference for more “mainstream” artists, however it was also an indication of the art world’s developing taste for a street art aesthetic. We are thrilled to feature the work of E.L.K in our June 28th 2021 Centum auction, lot 58.
Many recognised street artists have traversed from the street to the gallery, and in between. This interplay between the two spaces is what makes their work particularly unique. The concept of an exhibition space becomes truly tested, with many street art shows being held in temporary or abandoned spaces (not your typical white cube). This has often encouraged the development of an underground collector base for street art. Finding out about these shows and gaining first access has become highly coveted. One such street artist who has managed to develop a highly competitive pool of collectors, is Rone. His new works exist predominantly as
temporary installations, and then documented and sold as limited edition photographs. In the earlier stages of his career he favoured paste-ups, centreing on the female ‘Jane Doe’, as featured in lot 12 in our upcoming Centum auction. He has just closed a solo show at Geelong Gallery, his home town; the largest single exhibition at a public institution in Australia for a street artist.
Our Centum auction also features the work of Tom Gerrard, Ha-Ha, Ghost Patrol, and Mic Porter. Each talented and recognised street artists whose works are seen around the urban streets of Australia yet also in sell-out gallery shows.
Olivia Fuller / Head of Art