Street art has been criticized for being a boy’s club, so for the few internationally-prominent female street artists out there, it has been vital to foster a sense of camaraderie across national borders. This May, StolenSpace Gallery in London brings together two prolific artists, Olek and Miss Van, for two side-by-side solo shows that are in direct dialogue with one another. The two artists are long-time friends and admirers of one another’s work, and though they have been included in many group shows and street art projects together (during Miami Art Basel last December, they created neighboring artworks in the public art nexus Wynwood Walls), this is their first joint gallery project.
Miss Van’s new body of paintings entitled “Glamorous Darkness” is imbued with elements of ritual. Her characters — the soft, sensual poupees for which she is known — don masks and adornments from a fictional culture, huddling in groups that strengthen the theme of female friendship. The woven textures Miss Van paints echo Olek’s medium of choice: crochet. Olek’s side of the exhibition, “Let’s Not Get Caught, Let’s Keep Going,” features a photographic series inspired by Miss Van’s paintings. Partially nude, masked models pose in brightly-colored, crocheted worlds, juxtaposing sexuality with ostentatious adornments that suggest a mystical significance. The photo series will be accompanied by a site-specific installation.
For fun, I asked Olek and Miss Van to describe each other in a single sentence. “Miss Van is not bossy. She is the boss,” said Olek. Meanwhile, Miss Van wrote, “Olek is a warrior princess.” These sentiments sum up the mood of their dual shows: seeking power within sisterhood. Miss Van’s “Glamorous Darkness” and Olek’s “Let’s Not Get Caught, Let’s Keep Going” open to the public on May 9 and will be on view through June 1.