Urban Spree Galerie presents “Acid Reign“, the first solo show in Germany of the British visual artist Christopher Stead.
Acid Reign is the culmination of a long-term residency at Lab Kalkhost in Northern Germany. Christopher Stead produced on the shores of the Baltic Sea several large format works, using a process mixing graffiti techniques and natural elements.
Cans of paint are burst with nails, sand and mud is flung. An alchemy between the paint and the land turns into a painterly concrete, cementing ideas, solidifying a tangible truth. The paintings are stuffed into rucksacks and returned to the studio where Ikea bags full of previous endeavours lie dormant ready to rework. A fecund process is born.
The fences used in the supports of the pieces are taken from decaying plots on the train lines.
Rusty fences, transgressed and twisted by nature are transported to the studio. The erosion of the metal emasculates the sterile man-made purity of the material. This gives each painting a story and a history. Every fence painting starts at night on the train tracks with a pair of bolt cutters and finds its way into the light of the studio and finally into the gaze of the public domain.
“Once upon a time, on a small island called Great Britain, there lived a lady called Margaret Thatcher. Margaret along with her Tory Party ruled the land with an iron fist and squeezed the living life out of its people. Fed up of a decade of draconian rule, the people began to gather and dance their woes away at their own party. They called this the Acid House party.
Race and class barriers were dissolved as the people united and raved as one big family. The Tory party didn’t like this as they weren’t invited, so they invented a law to stop the gathering of 20 or more people, dancing to the sounds of repetitive beats. Techno, Jungle, call it what you want. It had to stop. Whilst this may sound like a children’s horror story, it was in fact or certainly a young adults nightmare. 30 years on, the nightmare continues. Britain is again been torn apart by the right.
The paintings in Acid Reign were made on the beaches of former East Germany. 30 years ago these beaches were patrolled by the military to stop East Germans defecting to the west. Cans of paint were popped and squeezed upon the sand soaked canvas to create the acid rain.
The works seeks new places to hang. Inspired by Foucault’s concept of heterotopia, it finds solace in spaces of otherness. Informed by a youth growing up free, painting graffiti on the trains. Painting in the dark. Surrounded by fences, along the train tracks, in and on derelict buildings. Buildings which housed these parties. Places of abandon and neglect. Again, the work finds itself back in its familiar territory.
Acid Reign is emblematic of the freedom of movement in open spaces without borders. A freedom which is slowly being choked out of the people once again.” Christopher Stead
Christopher Stead (b. 1974, UK) lives and works in London.
Tangled, torn, popped, squeezed and then hung in spaces of other, the work exists to evade the paradigms of commercial obedience, white cube boredom, and the polarities regimented by cultural hegemony.
Informed by Thatchers dystopian Britain and her Acid House love child, the work explores free movement in spaces without borders.
In 2016 Stead graduated with a First Class BA Hons in Fine Art at the City and Guilds of London Art School, London, where he received the Painter – Stainers Scholarship Prize and Brian Till Art History Thesis Award.