Typically, when street art, graffiti or whatever label we would like to attach to the defiant genre is removed from its original setting, it turns out dreadful. Its rebellious spirit is lost and all that is left is a range of non-classically trained skills that are all too easy for the rest of the art world to scoff at.
However, every once in a while a show, artist or gallerist comes along that acknowledges the difficulty of portraying this aesthetic in a traditional art setting and rises to the challenge.
The Underbelly Project, previously featured on The Huffington Post, is a venture that cuts to the core of the street art genus. Basically, you cannot get more underground than the Underbelly Project. Yet at a recent show in Wynwood during Art Basel Miami, the Underbelly Project reared its head to unveil a pleasantly translatable show.
The Project and its assortment of street art/ graffiti royalty take over abandoned spaces, but the pop-up location in the Wynwood Arts District thankfully did not forget where it came from. Situated in Wynwood, a place known for its embrace of contemporary murals featuring HowNosm and Shephard Fairey, the show represented the top echelon of talent.
Memorable pieces from Ron English, Swoon, Saber and The London Police felt appropriate despite their somewhat unfamiliar context. The assortment of work displayed did not feel overly agressive as if to compensate for lack of conventional technique.
Also important to note, the viewer is not merely migrating from canvass to canvass, waiting for the train of embellished monikers to end. All of the work was varied to the point where every piece was refreshing, yet still felt part of the larger picture, work by MoMo was a nice addition. Despite its hardcore beginnings, the Underbelly Project feels at home in a gallery setting.
That is not to say that the glitzy crowd from Basel will be busting down the doors anytime soon, but given the chaotic nature of the vernissages Wednesday night, perhaps that is for the best. View a slideshow of some of our favorite work from the Underbelly Project as well the surrounding Wynwood Arts District below.