Review: Oker At Stolen Space Gallery

Art & Culture

Oker is a household name to many who bounce around beneath the surface of the London art world. He comes from a background which is often looked harshly upon by the general public, let alone art critics. However, recent trends have started to lead those who were once outcast into the spotlight with gallery appearances and media coverage.

For those of you whom have never spent an evening in a dark gloomy tunnel beneath the pissing rain attempting to draw on a wall whilst your hands begin to gather frostbite then the work of Oker may not make much sense. However, in the context of a gallery it becomes clear to witness the underlying talent of one of London's most infamous and notorious artists. 

Having spent time under the clamp of the criminal justice system Oker has now begun to re-evaluate his creative outlet, channeling it through gallery projects and rather surprisingly… woodwork. His appearance at Stolen Space Gallery makes for a fairly obvious collaboration. 

Light floods the main gallery where Oker's work hangs sparcely. On the left hand side of the room an array of colourful drips splatter upon the white surface board. Chrome, gold and blue leaks towards the floor from height, untamed and left to run gloopily down. This isn't some artsy graphic design project or a cry for attention, the room is simply a replica of what Oker has been doing for decades beyond the midnight hour.  

Rough and rugged sketches hang framed: colourful pieces and wild ideas drawn out before being made a reality at a later date. People often forget that what is drawn on a wall isn't necessarily the culmination of a spontaneous moment but a pre planned form of self expression crafted with a back story, crafted with an idea. The sketches are not intricate, not detailed or drawn to perfection: they remain raw, scrappy, messy, much like the nature of graffiti itself. Nobody told Oker that he had to stick within the lines. That's the point. 

On the other side of the room hangs a collection of photographs taken from those days more troublesome. Trains hang photographed like trophies on an empty wall. Oker has left his mark on transport systems the world over. If this angers you and makes you question his moral standpoint, surely he has fulfilled his role as an artist?

Prints and framed tags cover the rest of the room in a two tone linear fashion. Chrome and black are prevalent, a nod to his traditional roots and those days spent wandering along dirty train tracks, through shifty warehouses and a testament to all the interesting characters met along the way. 

Coverage, tools of the trade and method of application have always been relevant to those who like to paint. Oker concludes his exhibition whilst remaining true to such sentiment. Seven pieces of hand crafted wood sit upon pillars within the small space, each has been sculpted to read the word 'Oker'. They are all uniquely different, weighty and distinctive. They reflect the overall goal of the exhibition in its entirety: representative of an artist seeking to express a learnt skill through a new medium. 

Following an exhibition such as this it is often interesting to observe which direction an artist will take. The likes of Oker has a number of decisions to make, however, nobody can criticise the loyalty to which Oker has shown to a community often left out in the cold. Oker has shown a commitment to those still hard at work under the cover of night, for now it's in the gallery rather than on the lines. 

Visit the Stolen Space site HERE


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