press release


From next Wednesday artworks by some of the world’s leading urban artists will start to emerge on the streets of NewcastleGateshead for BALTIC’s major new show Spank the Monkey.

With 40% of works sited at outdoor locations, the exhibition is set to reach thousands of unsuspecting people as they go about their daily routine in the twin cities. Things you might spot include an artwork by BANKSY at an undisclosed location in central Newcastle, a fresh wave of signature mosaic works by Invader set to appear at Gateshead Interchange and works on major billboard sites by Shepard Fairey, one of Los Angeles’ most respected artists, widely known for his international ‘OBEY’ campaigns.

Other major ‘off-site’ works include Spank me, Kiss me, Love me, a mural by Puerto-Rican artist Dzine in Byker Metro station, an intervention by Freaks Gallery in a shop on Pink Lane and an outdoor mural by Os Gemeos on Newcastle Quayside. Also look out for major works by Miss Van - a Barcelona based street artist known for her portraits of seductive female characters and works by Faile, a well known international trio who take to the streets for their inspiration mimicking the urban layers and textures to evoke imagery which deals with global themes.

An innovative SMS campaign conceived in partnership with leading North East brand technology company TH_INK Media will help guide visitors who happen across artworks navigate to the next location. Spank the Monkey outdoor works form part of NewcastleGateshead’s world class festival and events programme.

Inside the building highlights include a half-pipe, 6 foot elevation skate ramp in the Level 4 gallery space, with surface design by Japanese artist group Groovisions. Timed, daily sessions will allow visitors to use this facility. Works will also spill out of BALTIC: David Shrigley well known for his weekly cartoon strip in the Guardian magazine is creating a large banner for the north face of the building and a new work by Invader will be visible in the level 6 viewing box from Baltic Square. Artists presenting works inside BALTIC include Shepard Fairey, Os Gemeos, Kozyndan, Aya Takano, Chiho Aoshima, Yasumasa Yonehara, Faile, Neasden Control Centre, Takashi Murakami, Natasha Struchkova and Ryan McGinness.

In a unique collaboration with PlayStation®, artist duo Kozyndan are unveiling brand new artwork to celebrate the launch of The PlayStation® Season, as part of Spank the Monkey. Two panoramic drawings by the artists including a spectacular new drawing of the NewcastleGateshead quayside cityscape are among the works on show in the Level 3 gallery space. The final stage of the project launches at BALTIC on Thursday 16 November.

Spank the Monkey launches at BALTIC and at sites across NewcastleGateshead on Wednesday 27 September until Sunday 7 January. A catalogue produced by Die Gestalten Verlag and BALTIC accompanies the show, available in the shop from mid September alongside a broad range of related merchandise and artist-designed products.

Spank the Monkey is the first major international exhibition of contemporary urban art. Bridging the gap between traditional art spaces and the street, the show features twenty-two artists from urban centres across the world. Site-specific, one-off artworks and new commissions will be sited in BALTIC and on the streets of NewcastleGateshead. Spank the Monkey brings together established art world figures and heroes from the street scene and for many this is the first time their work has been exhibited in a gallery context. Featuring painting, sculpture, drawing, graphic design, installation, illustration and photography the displays will evoke a distinctive and irreverent vision informed as much by independent music, street culture, graphic design, manga comics, skateboarding, surfing, fashion and politics, as by the conventions of the contemporary art world.

Spank the Monkey is curated by independent curator Pedro Alonzo and BALTIC Director Peter Doroshenko.

EXTERNAL PROJECTS: Swoon, Faile, Invader, Shepard Fairey, Os Gemeos, Freaks Gallery, David Shrigley, Miss Van, BANKSY, Dzine, Neasden Control Centre

IN BALTIC: Shepard Fairey, Os Gemeos, Kozyndan, Aya Takano, Chiho Aoshima, Yasumasa Yonehara, Faile, Neasden Control Centre, Takashi Murakami, Natasha Struchkova, Ryan McGinness, Barry McGee, Groovisions

Since the launch of PlayStation, 10 years ago, Sony has supported a wide range of sponsorships, cultural activities, artists and institutions. Sony PlayStation is delighted to be working with BALTIC as part of the Spank the Monkey programme, for the first time.

NewcastleGateshead's programme of festivals and events is managed by destination marketing agency NewcastleGateshead Initiative and supported by Arts Council England, North East, Gateshead Council, Newcastle City Council, Northern Rock Foundation, One NorthEast and TyneWear Partnership.

TH_NK – New Media Sponsor Leading North East brand technology company TH_NK, provides fresh, new thinking in new media marketing, using cutting-edge technology and real creativity to make brands come alive online. Working with BALTIC as the gallery’s first ever ‘new media’ sponsor, TH_NK, will be leading an innovative programme of digital media-led activity enabling a diverse range of audiences to experience Spank the Monkey in challenging, new ways including an innovative SMS campaign, guerrilla web ambush campaign and dedicated micro-site for the show. Watch this space.

The Artists

Chiho Aoshima (Japan) is best known for her digital prints of landscapes featuring ghosts, demons and young female characters. Her work incorporates many elements of traditional Japanese culture, contrasting them with themes that question or subvert the traditional feminine role.

Banksy (United Kingdom) through his thoroughly defiant works has come to embody the spirit of youth. He simply and humorously takes on the establishment by confronting very complex issues through the use of stencils and urban interventions.

Dzine (United States of America) is a Puerto Rican-American artist and is greatly inspired by music. The abstract forms and vibrant colours in his work evoke the warmth and sensual nature of his Latin heritage.

Dr. Lakra (Mexico) is a tattoo artist by trade. He inks his expression onto paper and skin, often grafting his ink onto found images and objects.

Invader (France) has brought the mosaic – one of the oldest art forms – back to life, in the form of an alien. Utilising a format that defies convention, Invader has launched a global invasion placing thousands of mosaic space invaders around the world including NewcastleGateshead.

Faile (Canada/Japan/United States of America) are an international trio who take to the streets for inspiration and education. This group often mimic the layers and texture of the street and mix it with icons and imagery that deal with global themes.

Freaks Gallery (Denmark) is the ultimate “do it yourself” artist. He embodies the marginal by working with homeless people, rubbish and discarded materials. This is the last appearance of Freaks Gallery in the guise of a bankrupt corporation.

Shepard Fairey (United States of America) through long term dedication to a global campaign OBEY has become an international icon. Shepard’s work of visual disobedience can be seen in and around the world (including NewcastleGateshead) in many shapes and formats including murals, t-shirts, banners, stickers, posters and more.

Groovisions (Japan) are one of Japan’s premier graphic design firms. This team created the Chappies, a caricature of urban youth and lifestyle. The Chappies appear as mannequins, miniature dolls, speakers and on a skate ramp.

Kozyndan (Japan/United States of America) are a husband and wife team who are famous around the world for their detailed panoramas of cities. The caricature of the urban landscape is infused with chaos. Their mantra is “Keep it Unreal”.

Barry McGee (United States of America) is a major figure in contemporary art circles and considered a god to youth who are intent on tagging. Barry McGee has created his own visual language and installation based medium which confronts us with the decay and grit of the inner city.

Ryan McGinness (United States of America) is a graphic designer whose iconography takes on a new life. His paintings explore the depths of the symbols that surround us through a baroque pastiche.

Takashi Murakami (Japan) is the founder of the Superflat Movement, an approach to art inspired by Japanese Manga and Anime design. Murakami’s paintings and sculptures are greatly desired by the elite as well as being mass-produced for the consumer market. He has greatly influenced a whole generation of Japanese artists.

Miss Van (France) highlights the feline and the feminine in her portraits of seductive female characters. Scantily clad, these figures can be seen on walls around the world.

Neasden Control Centre (United Kingdom) create work which is raw and primal. Their doodle-like figures, manipulated images and discarded materials are the elements of chaos harnessed to make their work.

Os Gemeos (Brazil) are Brazilian twins who are well known graffiti artists from Latin America. Os Gemeos combine sculpture and paintings to create large scale installations, full of characters and overpowering images.

David Shrigley (United Kingdom) creates work which entertains us as much as it confronts us. His work includes books, interventions in public spaces, doodles and he is also currently featured in a weekly column in The Guardian magazine.

Natasha Struchkova (Russia) uses blocky, pixilated imagery of video game-like characters and environments to depict hierarchies of power and systems of control in post-Soviet Russia.

Swoon (United States of America) is best known for her block print cut outs that are pasted on walls like billboards. The design and shapes are intricate, feminine, gritty and capture the urban lifestyle.

Aya Takano (Japan) paints lively female characters who float and contort their waiflike bodies. Shiny and futuristic, yet soft and sensual Takano’s imagery questions the innocence of youth and play.

Ed Templeton (United States of America) uses photographs and installations to capture hardcore adolescence. The suburban dream is subverted when youth is repressed by social structures that limit any type of unofficial recreation. The work reflects how the young people have gone wild.

Yasumasa Yonehara (Japan) is a photographer, magazine editor and video artist. He shows a side of Japanese art that is controversial, unsettling and unapologetic.

only in german

Spank the Monkey
Kuratoren: Pedro Alonzo, Peter Doroshenko

mit Chiho Aoshima, Banksy ,  Dzine , Dr. Lakra , Invader , FAILE , Freaks Gallery , Shepard Fairey, Groovisions , Kozyndan , Barry McGee, Ryan McGinness, Takashi Murakami, Miss Van , Neasden Control Centre, Os Gemeos , David Shrigley, Natasha Struchkova, Swoon , Aya Takano, Ed Templeton, Yasumasa Yonehara