Street art has often been dismissed as glorified graffiti. Other critics vilify it as a sign of gentrification.
But there’s a radical tradition of artists using public spaces to create political art that connects with ordinary people. The problem with art under capitalism is that it becomes a commodity.
It can become a form of “high culture” in galleries and collections. If you’re a top professional artist, the pressure will be to produce for this small market.
That’s why some artists have historically turned to street art as an alternative. We can see examples of this through periods of upheaval and struggle.
There might have been changes in how art is distributed in recent years. Nonetheless, we should see London’s burgeoning street art scene in this subversive tradition.
Make sure you check out the work of Stik, who is probably one of London’s best known street artists. His minimalist style, with its thick lines and basic colours, is what makes the art so powerful and striking.
There’s also the occasional work of Thierry Noir. His work was displayed outside the German embassy last November.
Noir began painting the Berlin Wall in 1984—he was the first artist to do so. His aim was to ridicule and protest against what the Wall represented.
You can book onto one of the tours, which will take you around the East End. But nothing beats exploring London’s street art for yourself and finding new discoveries.