I first met Alo (see full interview from page 7) back in April, I saw his work around East London and it spoke to me on a personal level; I was blown away by the rawness of his portraits. The combination of a punk ethos with a sensibility was to me something different, exciting and I wanted to see more of his work. After talking to him I was hooked, this was not just an artist, this was an artist who had radical political stand point and wanted to express it.
In a world where the distractions of “reality TV” and the so called beautiful people are inflicted on us like a visual disease, it’s refreshing to see someone who understands and wants to express the true reality of real people, all be it from an artistic stand point. To show at Saachi is probably one of the high points of an artist’s career, I was intrigued how Alo’s work would translate from the streets to the white wash walls of a gallery space.
I descended the gallery staircase to be greeted by 40 or so portraits all in true Alo style, like tribal masks they adorned the walls. His use of colour and ability to show emotion through colour is second to none; turning reality on its head but still maintaining a connection with the viewer, there’s something about the eyes of his portraits that hypnotise you. Alo’s breakout exhibition ‘Hail to the looser’ was to me a success. As I browsed the room with my editors I was transfixed by several pieces, one in particular being a three dimensional piece in the middle of the room made from old pieces of wood. When I looked closely at the works the PUNK ‘home made’ ethos was in plain sight, he had used old doors as his canvas giving the paintings an interesting earthy feel.
I left the gallery with mixed emotions, on the one hand happy for Alo to be able to show his work in such a prestigious gallery, but on the other worried how a sensitive artist like him, with his particular outlook on life will survive and evolve in the pretentious world that is fine art. When I first spoke to Alo he was very much anti establishment; an artistic renegade of sorts choosing to use the streets to show his work. Three months later and he’s been picked up by Saachi and his paintings are now hung on the gallery walls that have housed the likes of Tracey Emin and Damian Hurst. I totally understand the need for an artist to be recognised and make money, after all we all have to eat and pay rent. However this raises questions for me, is it possible for an artist to remain true to themselves and make money? Do we all eventually have to play the game and become part of the establishment? I still haven’t decided, but I for one will always prefer to see his art on the streets; like the people he paints, raw and unrefined.