This Saturday sees the inaugural opening of the highly anticipated DANAD Gallery, not in London but 20 miles north in the County town of Hertfordshire, Hertford. Occupying a disused two storey music/club venue formerly known as Elbert Wurlings.
DANAD is a name with an impeccable fine art pedigree that goes back more than half a century. DANAD design is an iconic design brand first conceived in 1958 as the brainchild of a hothouse collective of artists who lived and worked in the dilapidated splendour of their communal home Marden Hill, the Georgian country house in Hertfordshire. Those artists included Tom Adams, the late Barry Daniels, Sir Peter Blake, Bernard Cohen and Robin Denny, acknowledged as some of the originators of the Pop Art movement, possibly the first as recently reported by the V&A, London – preceeding the likes of Andy Warhol.
Barry Daniels son Mark debuts the first DANAD show with three handpicked artists who each, in their own way epitomised the musical zeitgeist. Each of the three artists’ works have a common irony of being iconoclastic in their own right. Collectively their imagination, provocative styles have scared people out of complacency; art that changed history and art that changed lives.
This first exhibition at the new gallery runs for 3 weeks, is a fitting homage to the roots of a brand that took fine art off the walls and made it part of the everyday; through graphic novels and comic book art; through street graffiti and through political and social comment, each of these artists have done the same and they continue to do so with their current works.
CHU, Swifty and Jamie are outlaw artists whose work is inextricably entwined with some of the era-defining music of our lifetimes – from punk and jazz to jungle and hip-hop; Jamie Reid us the Sex Pistols, Swifty gave us Acid Jazz and Mo Wax and CHU came via the explosive UK Hip Hop movement with Goldie and Futura 2000.
Exploring (literally) new perspectives and embracing computer-aided technologies, Chu’s work has continued to push back the boundaries of graffiti since he first began experimenting with aerosol paint and home computers in the late 1980s, Chu describes his creations as ‘gently reminding us of the everyday conflict between digital and analogue devices’.
Over some 30 years, he has worked with some of the most culturally influential artists of our time, including projects with Banksy and the seminal Pictures on Walls collective (notably painting at the Swiss Embassy in London and for the groundbreaking opera ‘Monkey Journey to the West’) and with Jamie Hewlett of Tank Girl and Gorillaz fame. As well as teaching graffiti at the London College of Fashion and in Afghanistan, Chu cites as a career highlight sitting in a coach waiting for the sun to rise with Futura on his 40th Birthday so they photograph their painting at an outdoor rave (Futura 2000 was the artist/rapper who first saw fame after paining ‘live on stage with the Clash on their Combat Rock Tour and later worked on many cover design for James Lavelle’s Mo’ Wax Acid Jazz/Trip Hop-orientated record label)
Situationist artist and anarchist Jamie almost single-handedly created UK punk rock’s visual aesthetic, notably with his cover designs for the Sex Pistols, including their Never Mind the Bollocks album and, most notoriously, the cover for the banned No. 1 single God Save the Queen, which took an Cecil Beaton portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and adorned her with a safety pin through her nose and swastikas in her eyes. The image has been described by Sean O’Hagan of The Observer as ‘the single most iconic image of the punk era’. This exhibition includes the piece in a similar vein that originally caught the eye of Pistols manager/Svengali Malcolm McClaren and led to the commission for those era-defining images.
Even if you have never heard of Swifty you can bet your life you’ve seen or even owned a piece of his artwork. For two decades this man has cast an innovative and distinctive visual shadow over contemporary club culture… ‘ Paul Radshaw, publisher/editor, Straight No Chaser.
Swifty’s almost ubiquitous name and creations are indelibly imprinted on much of the most significant music of the nineties through to the present day, especially Trip Hop/Acid Jazz-related genres – notably design work for the influential Straight No Chaser magazine and seminal labels such as Giles Peterson’s Talkin Loud and Brownswood record labels, James Lavelle’s Mo’ Wax, Fourth & Broadway Records, Mo’ Music and Blue Note Records (Japan) amongst countless others. Then there are his countless TV title sequences, t-shirt and skateboard designs and the fine art that appears in this exhibition.
PRIVATE VIEW: Saturday 8th November, 7.30pm until midnight
OPENING: Monday 10th November, 12 noon until 9pm
DANAD Gallery (formerly Elbert Wurlings), Pegs Lane, Hertford SG13 8EG
For all enquiries regarding the DANAD Gallery, please contact Mark Daniels: firstname.lastname@example.org