Running from now until the 30th September 2015, the Opera Gallery in DIFC is showing the first Dubai solo exhibition of work by the French, former graffiti artist – Gully.
Gully used to be a part of the Paris graffiti scene, moving through the night, spray-painting murals and other stuff on the sides of buildings and subway trains etc… But now he’s graduated to canvas and paper, so instead of your average man in the street with no interest in art looking and semi-judging his work, he’s moved to the pretence of the art critique instead.
No Longer Hanging
A strange move? Well not really, Banksy has pretty much ruined graffiti for everyone else now anyway. Although stencilling is hardly what most would call graffiti, the continual churning out of a succession of explainable, un-nuanced, anti-capitalist pieces that create hysteria among the masses, has made Banksy millions, and left others in the cold, or even in prison. Did you know, Banksy is the only “graffiti-artist” who would not be arrested in the UK if he was caught spray painting with a stencil, he’s actually encouraged by money-hungry councils to pay a visit to their towns – and people say Dubai is a destination full of legal contradiction.
Having worked the streets for 10 years, Gully has taken on the rather more distinct challenge of displaying his art in galleries on canvas. Having discovered a conceptual movement from the late 70’s/early 80’s called Appropriation Art, Gully found all the inspiration he needed to hang up the spray cans for good.
Gully’s work mirrors Appropriation Art in that it takes images, qualities or styles from pre-existing, revered paintings and artists, and fuses these with contemporary, self-imposed elements to create a kind of mesh of styles that take the viewer on a sort of journey through the ages of art.
The French artist takes the work of the very people he is influenced by, so visitors to the exhibition can expect to find nods to Picasso, Warhol, Canaletto, Hopper, Rockwell, Basquiat and Koons, and even… Banksy.
Such a Mystery
An interesting aspect to Gully’s artwork is his refusal to autograph his creations with his pseudonym. Nobody really knows what Gully looks like (sound familiar?), and if you are thinking about going to look at his work, beware; as he puts it: “I enjoy being next to people that are criticising me. Nobody knows I’m the artist, the one who created the subject of the inimitable critique. I used to do the same on the subway. Smash a train (we think this means graffiti a train), then get on it and listen to the passengers display their outrage.”
So if you are one of those art critics that are slightly perturbed by the idea of causing offence to the artist – which no art critics are – then you may want to look around you for a mysterious French guy.
When pushed on why he chooses to remain anonymous, his retort is fairly simplistic: “Why would you give a shit about who I am? I told you where I come from, that should be enough for you. The rest is none of your business. Is it my work or my resume you’ll hang in your living room?”