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Tokyo Wonder Site, Shibuya
Closes in 18 days

When the mysterious U.K. street artist Banksy instigated a series of pranks last year that lead to a slew of articles and an exhibition in Los Angeles, street culture once again gained art world cred. Even high profile French fashion designer agnes b. is in on the game, supporting projects by artists who made their names using cities as their canvases.

Now she has helped bring the works of U.S.-based artists Sheppard Fairey and WK Interact to Shibuya’s Tokyo Wonder Site (www.tokyo wondersite.com) for a show and other side events. Fairey, showing under his Obey Giant moniker, has a well known back story among followers of street culture. In the early 1990s, a lazy afternoon at the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, when Fairey taught a friend how to silk screen a newspaper clipping of pro wrestler Andre the Giant, turned into an international social experiment in meaningless messages. As Fairey’s stickers bearing the ominous “Andre the Giant has a Posse” tag started appearing in cities across America and the world, interpretations and attributions abounded. Now that experiment has turned into business as Fairey trades in high quality art prints of stylized icons and figures of propaganda whose meaning has been reappropriated with antiauthoritarian slogans. Though in photos they verge on illustration/graphic design, in person the superb craftsmanship put into the surfaces of his work adds another dimension.

New York-based WK Interact creates elongated, black-and-white images of people in motion that blend into the city landscape. Like Fairey’s, WK’s works combine the suggestion of imminent — and undesired — violence with counterculture edge. Both of their works are also able to capture the appearance of the weathered posters that they would be covering on the street. Together with their easy draughtsmanship, both come off well in the gallery, making you feel like you’ve come across a treasure trove of protest paraphernalia in your groovy uncle’s attic.

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