Inflatable icons, sporting losers and sand fountain
I haven't been consistently overjoyed with what the Olympics brought to London in terms of public art. But then public art commissioning is a difficult job. Or maybe it is one done by people who might not be the most competent nor the most attentive to what the public relate too.
There are many exceptions of course. I used to get out of my way to walk by Yinka Shonibare's giant Nelson's ship in a bottle on Trafalgar Square's fourth plinth. And i can't find fault with Frieze Projects East's six commissions for the Olympic Host Boroughs in East London. The works commissioned are accessible without being condescending. And they probably have enough bite and wit to fulfill their mission to connect with the communities in East London.
The site-specific artworks include an abstract sculpture that doubles as children play park, over-sized mirror door knobs, a bleakly impressive fountain flowing with sand as well as comic-strips popping up on billboards, pages in local newspapers and posters to tell the stories of sport losers.
Sarnath Banerjee's Gallery of Losers (Non-Performers, Almost-Winners, Under-Achievers, Almost-Made-Its) was my favourite work. I had no idea they were an art commission, i kept stumbling upon them in East London and photographed them thinking they were some street art parody of the Nike ads that were plastered all over the tube stations this Summer. I like being part of the unsuspecting art audience.
LOVE had me at the word 'inflatable' and it consists in a series of inflated cubes and other forms that openly refer modern and contemporary icons. Art ones such as Brancusi bronzes, Rodin's Kiss or Robert Indiana's pop art Love. And forgotten pop-rap icons from the '90s like the charming singer Betty Boo.
You can hop inside the 'LOVE' cube, sit down and watch a video fmash-up of art and pop-culture imagery.
Gary Webb's playground sculpture will remain in Charlton Park, but you have until the 26 August to visit Hamilton and Byrne's Love (more images), Klaus Weber's Sandfountain, Can Altay's Distributed. If you're lucky you might still come upon some of Banerjee's comics quietly yellowing and peeling away on some wall.