A recent Askew One mural in Australia.
Though they tackle different subject matter, Askew One and Fintan Magee each address social issues and cultural identity in the context of a globalized society. Their two-person show “Oceanic” will briefly be on view for a pop-up exhibition at RexRomae Gallery in London July 24 through July 30. With their shared backgrounds in street art, both artists will be covering the walls of RexRomae with site-specific murals for the show.
Askew One creates intimate-feeling portraits where nuanced expressions are enhanced through swelling bursts of color and dripping paint. With a street art career spanning two decades behind him, he uses his latest body of work to pay homage to the various cultures of the Pacific region. But rather than a Gauguin-esque survey of foreign lands, his portraits zero in on his subjects’ faces and listen intently rather than making tone-deaf generalizations. The sitters’ expressions elucidate emotions that feel recognizable and relatable. Askew’s bright colors and geometric, puzzle-like compositions invite our eyes to linger.
Australian artist Fintan Magee, whose street art we recently covered here on the blog, complements the New Zealand-based Askew One’s work with his paintings. Playful yet sobering, Magee’s work makes use of surprising compositional elements to impart a social commentary. One piece, for instance, features a young boy wistfully looking at the stars. But as our eyes trace the canvas, it becomes apparent that he is sitting atop an oil barrel strapped to a worker’s back. At what cost to others, the piece seems to ask, do we achieve the luxury of modern conveniences in the Western world? Though quite different, the two artists’ bodies of work fit together smoothly as each one prompts us to reflect on the different ways cultures intersect, connect and collide.
Fintan Magee working on his wall at RexRomae Gallery