Art Below has quietly been staging a takeover of commercial space in the underground for about five years. Where Art on the Underground has been getting the big names such as Jeremy Deller and Eva Rothschild down in the tube since 2000, Art Below is tapping into the urban art scene. Somehow, there is a more comfortable fit between the work of artists who have long been operating out of the usual galleries and the public context of the underground. Whereas the works commissioned by Art on the Underground might often go unnoticed on your daily commute, Art Below curates high energy, quirky art that is more likely to catch your eye and distract you from your latest edition of the Metro.
Last Tuesday I saw them celebrate their latest venture, Art in Motion, which has adopted the digital projection screens on the Westbound Central line platform at Liverpool Street as a temporary gallery to present short films focussing on the creation process.
If you ever wondered how Slinkachu creates these miniature universes, why Choony’s sculptural works are so realistic and how The Three Classicists manage to paint such amazing architectural “graffiti”, then you might want to take a detour via Liverpool Street station. I got to watch the films last night in great comfort as Art Below took over the Future Gallery in Covent Garden for their launch. The celebration was well lubricated with cognac punch aplenty provided by their sponsor and, although the films are as variable as the artists’ work, they are worth watching even without a cocktail in hand.
For the occasion, Johan Andersson’s “Stolen Faces” were also on display. It’s no wonder that the painter was the youngest artist to be shortlisted for the BP Portrait Award. The large scale detailed portraits represent people who are not considered classically beautiful : the bruised, the scared and the tattooed are his favourite models. The series even comprises the strangely affecting disembodied face of Gaddafi. This work was previously displayed last March as part of the Plinth of Peace, a temporary display opposite the Houses of Parliament in Westminster. This is a more politically engaged project of Art Below happening in partnership with Peace Strike. As if that was not enough, there is also currently an exhibition of Nasser Azam’s Antartica works happening simultaneously in the London/Tokyo underground public transport systems.
Next time you’re planning on taking the tube, leave your Ipad and your paperback novel at home, add fifteen minutes to your journey and enjoy the art!