Before Banksy and Blek le Rat, in a heady era of 80s street art, a new counterculture hit New York City. Their brand of guerrilla art heralded social activism through street culture. The East Village art movement in New York was spurred on by a new version of creative mass media which the City’s concrete as their blank canvas. Hambleton was one of the new scene’s stars.
Hambleton imposed his artistic ideology throughout New York’s streets using the urban landscape to showcase his ideals. Pedestrians were unknowing spectators without seeing his face, name or identity. His was a new kind of expression; graphic, monochrome and hyper-enlarged. ‘Shadow Men’, as they became affectionatly known, loomed large upon unsuspecting pedestrians on New York street corners. Hambleton also became the first street artist to export his work all over the world. A true forerunner in every sense of the word.
Since Hambleton was active on the street in the 70s and 80s, before the advent of digital cameras and large scale interest in street art, we aren’t left with many images of his street art so this show, in a way, represents the best way to see his work. Indeed, finding a shadowman today in New York is the equivalent of an archaeological discovery.
Where and when?
7 Wakefield Street,
until December 3, 2010