Welcome to ‘Bling Bling’.
You’ve probably heard it a lot lately. The hip-hop expression ‘bling bling’, or sometimes just bling, has been popping up everywhere – television, radio, and newspapers.
The term has moved into mainstream speech and even into the Oxford English Dictionary. Used to describe diamonds, jewellery and all forms of showy style or materialistic pursuits, the attitude of bling bling is the theme of an exhibition by London based artists Godfried Donkor and Mary Evans.
Using the londonprintstudio as their base Donkor and Evans are making new print based works using ‘bling’ as their focal point.
Godfried Donkor’s works have used the londonprintstudio’s location on the Harrow Road as a starting point for large-scale collages depicting everyday scenes of local buildings, shops, bars and people. These are then worked alongside mainstream media images from gossip magazines, overlaying local people with celebrity images. For the final work, sections of printed and painted canvases will stretch across the length of the gallery wall referencing the potential that everyone, not only the rich and famous, has the chance to ‘bling’ at some point in their lives. Considering the bling bling on a purely aesthetic level can seem shallow and phony, but in this raw visual way Donkor believes it relates to a much larger proportion of the population.
Mary Evans’ large kaleidoscopic window installation has come about from the consideration of bling bling as an aspiration, a desire for something unobtainable. To ‘bling’ is to display the accoutrements of having arrived, both socially and financially, and then to make sure everyone knows about it. Evan’s is particularly interested in what lies behind the bling – the bitter aftertaste behind the glitter. Kaleidoscopes hold expectations of something frivolous and diverting; something beautiful. Yet hidden within her ‘scope drawings’ are images of slave ships and gallows. To Evan’s bling bling seems most pertinent when seen in direct contract to deprivation.
Bling bling is one of the latest cultural icons in our public consciousness. Everyone dreams of making enough money to live like the rich and famous. No longer is fifteen minutes of fame enough. Bling bling is a description of this desire.
Both Godfried Donkor and Mary Evans have exhibited widely in the UK and across the world. Donkor most recently held solo exhibitions at the Stephen Lawrence Gallery in London and The Scene Gallery in New York as well as being artist in residence at CCA7 in Trinidad and Tobago during 2002/2003. Mary Evans was born in Nigeria and has had solo exhibitions at Café Gallery Projects, London and Art and Project in Rotterdam. Their work appeared together in a group show, ‘A Fiction of Authenticity: Contemporary Africa Abroad’ in the Contemporary Art Museum, St Louis in 2003, but the exhibition at londonprintstudio will be their first two person show together.