When taking the right onto Hearne Street, I thought my phone must of been mistaken and had once again led me to the wrong location, though then like a glittering light, I saw the small MDF advertisement for URBAN MASTERS at Factory 7 in Hoxton. Though the exhibition has now finished, I thought I would still share my thoughts as I have put off writing this since Thursday.

The show presented by the Opera Gallery showcased some of the best and most inventive street artists, which included Banksy, Shepard Fairey, Blek le Rat, Ron English, Sweet Toof making up the total 33 artists being shown. So with all of these legends being celebrated it only seemed right it was held in a fitting setting and that was a hidden urban factory.

When first walking in you are greeted with one of the best pieces in the whole show, which is a huge portrait of General Mao, made from 9,000 toy soldiers. The artist Joe Black chose to base it on an already existing portrait of the founding father of, People’s Republic of China by Andy Warhol. Though the addition of the soldiers takes this piece to another level, as it stands at a colossus 215cm by 310cm. Black was quick to add that all of the soldiers face inwards towards the centre of the face to represent the army he had during his reign.

Though what makes this piece so staggering is that each soldier was individually hand painted and took the artist a gruelling five months to complete. I think that Opera Gallery director and shows curator said it best when he described it as a “impressive piece”

When walking around you instantly can see the way the artists have done a pretty good job of transferring their work into a gallery and successfully bridging the usually tricky gap. There is some outrageous works, which utilise this huge space. No other piece does it quite like the staged car crash by Zevs called “Love, Crash, Burn”. This is a tribute to the fantastic Robert Indiana as well and has to surely cement itself as the most imposing and amazingly creative works on show.

When I first got to the gallery I was interested to find the piece by culture jam specialist Ron English, but when finally reaching his take of Picasso’s Guernica I was vastly disappointed. I was expecting one of his stereotypical pop-culture heavy parodies that never fail to make me burst out laughing. Though instead I was greeted with something a whole lot more weird, which I have to say grew on me.

One of the great things about having this many inventive and influential street artists all in one place, is the great number of materials used. Nick Gentry who gets resourceful by using old floppy disks. Also the toy trains used by duo GRIS1/DMV further shows the genius and thought that has gone into curating and making this a successful and interesting show.

I would of fastidiously recommended that you visit this and show your support for Anti Slavery by buying one of the catalogues. Though it has finished so I am going to instead just say that this was one of the best examples of how a gallery can take street art from these urban masters and emphasis how critical and feverishly contemporary, this whole movement is.


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