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.