Culture 3 November, 2019 @ 10:45
Discovering Cartrain, will he be the new Banksy?
by Marco Rubino
My great passion is street art.
In the dense panoramic landscape of street artists who have left the city suburbs and landed in art galleries and private collections, we find one that, thanks to his creativity and “actions”, has managed to attract media attention and collector’s interest when he had still yet to come of age.
We are talking about Cartrain. The leitmotif, the common thread, of his artistic activity derives from the acute wit he uses to stimulate the mind of modern society on world interests, interpreted in a direct and fluid way and consequently of easy access to a wide audience.
This is how works are born, works which, at London’s Imitate Modern, find themselves amongst perhaps the most dynamic gallery of emerging artists building solid careers today, mixing street art and pop culture.
George Bush and Korean leader Kim Jong-un become short story versions of Marilyn Monroe, Che Guevara takes on the aesthetic appearance of Mickey Mouse, while the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II is used to create a sign that prohibits the consumption of alcohol.
Cartrain is a complete artist, who uses different techniques including collage and stencil always managing to hit and kidnap his audience, regardless of the medium used.
His career started a time ago, when he was twelve years old, making use of the walls of Leytonstone as his own canvas, in the small town of East London where he was born, often identified as a creative area of the British capital. At the age of 15, he moved to Central London, bringing his politically-based art to walls near the Parliament.
After making himself known within the London street art community, Cartrain gained the true media spotlight in 2008, whence creating a work of art with his depiction of the famous diamond-studded skull by Damien Hirst, and offering it for sale in a digital art gallery. This most famous British contemporary artist, piqued for this unauthorized reproduction, turns to the Design And Artist Copyright Society and the work is withdrawn by the same author.
(for more details*, scroll to footer)
Cartrain’s response to Damien Hirst comes the following year, when he removes a pack of pencils from Hirst’s Pharmacy installation at the Tate.
After this provocative gesture, Cartrain covers the English capital with posters, which, in a “wanted” style, bear this message: “You can get your pencils back when I get my artwork back. Hirst you have until the end of the month to solve this problem or July 31 the pencils will be sharpened “.
This gesture, still remembered today among the main art thefts in the UK, cost Cartrain arrest, but the accusations, as reported by the media of the time, are soon withdrawn.
The provocation, showing the rebellious spirit and marked knowledge of Cartrain’s use of the media, guarantees the artist’s absolute notoriety. According to UK’s The Guardian, the news reaches Banksy, who shows support.
This episode is followed by other acts of artistic guerrilla warfare, which bring Cartrain to the National Gallery, the Tate Modern and British Museum. The clamor generated by his being “out of chorus” consecrates him in the firmament of contemporary art to the extent that in Asia his works are even replicated and sold on the black market.
A few years later, Cartrain, not-of-the-structure, creates a collage with some images of Gilbert & George – a couple of million dollar artists among the main exponents, both princes, of contemporary art.
The duo note it and, positively impressed by the genius of the youth, decide to host the creation of Cartrain within their own temple of exhibition for contemporary art, The White Cube.
In a 2014 interview, George declares his great pride for the work of the street artist. Gilbert & George also use the image created by Cartrain to create a huge work of tenor, which they then exhibit in one of the most globally famous and noble contemporary art exhibitions, Frieze.
A few years later Cartrain continues with his works and his messages that have led him to be considered by many to be the new Banksy. As the most famous street artist, Cartrain also has a clear idea of the cost of street art and the need to protect it from being an exclusive interest of a financial nature.
Heard by Forbes regarding it’s current condition, Cartrain said, “Street art is a powerful apparatus of communication based on anonymity. Today, most street art lacks integrity. It is fundamental that creativity is, or goes back to being, a solemn commitment to society and that success is only a mental and spiritual state, and not a financial remuneration.”
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*2008 UK Guardian Article by Jonathan Jones: “As Cartrain tells the tale, he was ordered by Hirst’s copyright controllers to actually surrender all the collages that incorporate For The Love of God that were still in his possession. He has also sent me a copy of a letter on DACS (Design and Artists Copyright Society) stationery, dated 12 November, that appears to confirm this version of events. The letter acknowledges receipt of four collages confiscated on the instructions of Damien Hirst, and asserting that a copyright infringement has occurred. Hirst is also demanding £195 from Cartrain, money that he made by selling collages that also feature For The Love of God” – 2008 UK Guardian Article
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