Sweet Toof and the Burning Candy crew as a whole (Sweet Toof is part of it) are heavy-weight champions when it comes to street art in London. If you have ever wandered around East London, you must have come across these ‘bubble-gum’ faces with protuberant teeth characters always bursting with flashy colors but this is not what it is about here or not quite.
Should you not remember having seen such a thing around East London, Sweet Toof huge piece on the gates of the gallery is there to remind you of it.
Teeth and that pink flesh that we call gums have been Sweet Toof interest for years now and as you step in Arch402 gallery, what you can see is pink mouths, teeth and gums, small or bigger, on humans or animals, there is an orgy of it.
The venue is awesome and feels airy and bright which calms you down and enable you to get yourself back together before you spot at the back of the gallery what looks like an upside down carcass of a horse. You are drawn to it, you need to have a closer look. Ripped open and containing an army of mouths inside the horse belly, Sweet Toof is trying to tell us something here – we will all end up being eaten or if he is not, it is a superb piece of art with an ingenious way of reminding that he is originally a graffiti artist, a street artist: the horse feet have been replaced by painting rollers.
The visit continues and I am very happy and impressed to look at rather finely executed oil paintings on linen or wood cut on sepia wash – Sweet Toof is not afraid to play with all sort of mediums. ‘Accomplished artist’ is what came to my mind at the time.
The recurrent symbolic Sweet Toof is using for this show is something I had not seen before or something I had not seen mixed with modern street art and in a gallery environment should I rather say. Vanitas is what we are looking at here and was a type of symbolic work of art especially associated with Northern European still life painting in Flanders and the Netherlands in the 16th and 17th centuries which can be defined as the meaninglessness of earthly life and the transient nature of vanity (according to Wikipedia). The most common vanitas symbols include skulls which are in each and every Sweet Toof works.
The paintings seems unreal, surreal. They are all depicting what looks like hunting, revolution or war scenes with characters dressed like people from Northern Europe were back in the 16th or 17th centuries but with that exuberant face , that ‘bubblegum’ face with those mighty teeth. Weird, confusing, powerful, unique.
Sweet Toof and Shan Hur – Having a Dig show is here to prove to the sceptical, that street artists aren’t just young troublemakers interested in trashing the place up with paint but are or can become fully accomplished artists that pursue an idea, exploring it and breaking it down using all sort of mediums. Sweet Toof has just done this.
How about for a kick in the teeth!
The show runs until the 3rd February at Arch402 gallery