Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - ART & MUSIC -

by Sub­set

Spray paint on wall, courtesy sub­set.ie

DAYS, years, decades... how they roll on by. Ja­panese artist On Kawara’s pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with time led to his 3,000 Date paint­ings, each one hand-painted fea­tur­ing a spe­cific date, in white, on a red, blue or dark­grey back­ground. His May 1, 1987 work sold for more than $4m three years ago, the year he died. He had lived 29,771 days.

“Every­thing is tem­po­rary,” say the Sub­set Mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary Artist Col­lec­tive, cre­ators of this daz­zling art work, 2018, in Por­to­bello, Dublin 8. In early morn­ing sun, nearby rail­ings cast sharp shad­ows on gor­geous reds and blues and candy-coloured stylish let­ter­ing on a brick wall. This pas­sion­ate, ego-free group’s vi­sion is “big­ger than any in­di­vid­ual”.

It is team work, and Sub­set’s work in­cludes video, sculp­ture, strate­gic op­er­a­tions, photography, unique wall art. “Bill­boards are over — large for­mat, ground level art is where it’s at. Does any­one pho­to­graph a bill­board? Dim-wit­ted ad­ver­tis­ers wake up!”

Sub­set’s hand-made work is all over so­cial me­dia. They turned a hoard­ing by St James’s Hos­pi­tal into a beau­ti­ful plant and bird de­sign; their bril­liant Stor­mzy mu­ral in Smith­field wel­comed the hiphop rap­per to town — but the city coun­cil rapped Sub­set’s knuck­les for not hav­ing plan­ning per­mis­sion, threat­en­ing en­force­ment pro­ceed­ings. Same for a strik­ing mu­ral of an African woman in Rath­mines — and yet, as Sub­set frus­trat­ingly ob­serves, “we had the own­ers’ per­mis­sion and DCC has ac­tu­ally com­mis­sioned and paid us for other work”.

Re­silient, per­sis­tent, Sub­set be­lieve that “all art is com­mer­cial, all art pro­motes some­thing”. Their work re­ceives a 99.9pc pos­i­tive re­sponse.

And the 0.1pc? “From anony­mous com­plaints to DCC.”

Sub­set’s of­fice is so cold that woolly hats, over­coats, hot wa­ter bot­tles are needed. Wi-fi gets cut off. But that won’t stop them.

Think Trump, Brexit, Kim Jongun, Ro­hingya, Ophe­lia and it’s easy to say good­bye to 2017. Sub­set’s 10 young men and women, av­er­age age 25, are op­ti­misti­cally, en­er­get­i­cally com­mit­ted to pro­mot­ing cul­tural, so­cial, po­lit­i­cal change in Ire­land.

Pulling peo­ple in, not push­ing things at them, is their phi­los­o­phy.

Their 2018 im­age cer­tainly pulls you in and of­fers us a very good-look­ing New Year.

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