A peacock struts across cinderblock walls. It inhabits an abandoned building that looks as if it has sustained a bomb blast. Songbirds brightly fill another edifice, distracting the viewer from the structure’s crumbling state of dilapidation. Elsewhere, a brown bear—a species that has been gone from these isles for at least 1,000 years—drinks honey from a beehive, its form rising above a concrete slab with weeds poking through cracks.
Darren Cullen and his crew, the Graffiti Kings, were once among the most notorious urban painters in London. Part of an underground movement, they are challenging the mores of fine art and leaving their marks across England’s capital city, as well as other post-industrial burgs.
In graffiti speak, those who create with spray paint cans are called “writers” and each one has a handle. Cullen’s is SER. His crewmates use such nome de plumes as Zomby, Dice, Gasp, Blam, Bonzai, Skore, Crok, Dep, Cage, Brave, Farkfk, Hemp, Ben, Mr Met, jAZ, Rocket01, Faunagraphic, and Brave. Their signatures are well respected and known on the street as the Picassos and da Vincis of their social circles.
The Graffiti Kings inhabit a dingy wilderness, more shadowy and Dickensian that many leading comfortable lives would care to admit actually exists in the 21st century. If they had an accompanying soundtrack, it would be scored with gritty, irreverent street verse set to favorite strains of Hip Hop and rap.
In America, graffiti often is regarded as a telltale...
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Post Date:October 17th, 2010
'Is graffiti art? In England and everywhere, some have labeled it a crime. But one crew that's gone legit, the Graffiti Kings, is not only attacking blight in some of London's run-down neighborhoods, it has won commissions from global companies and respect from those that used to condemn it. Darren Cullen, the Kings' leader talks about winning fame and shedding infamy.