Controversial crochet artist Olek has a new exhibit up at the Jonathan LeVine Gallery in New York. It’s a solo exhibition called “The Bad Artists Imitiate, The Good Artists Steal”. An article by Nick Schonberger explains that this is a name borrowed from a piece of work by Banksy, the graffiti artist that we’ve seen Olek inspired from before, and that she also incorporates some Banksy quotes into the exhibit.
The photo above, depicting the title of the exhibit (although a bit hard to read in the camouflage) actually reminds me of another New York artist – Jean Michel Basquiat. Basquiat got attention from the New York art scene in the 1980’s because of his SAMO graffiti art although he wasn’t ever really accepted as a graffiti artist because he always aimed to be a commercial artist. The crossing-out feature seen here is something that is characteristic of Basquiat’s work so that’s probably a key reason that the Olek piece reminds me of that artist.
In any case, the exhibit features her signature camo style crochet covering a huge variety of different items from shopping carts to boxing gloves. There were live people covered in her crochet suits at the opening, although I don’t know if they’re there regularly at the gallery. These crochet-suit-people seem to be becoming an Olek signature. I have never seen Olek’s work in person. I imagine that it’s a bit of sensory overload but also really amazing and inspiring.
If you’re in New York this month, you can see the show through August 27th. You can’t miss the space since there’s a cherry picker outside that’s covered in bright pink Olek crochet. If you aren’t in New York then you can at least check out Bowery Boogie, a terrific online source on all things Olek.