An art adventure by night on the streets of Croydon town centre.
Another day, another remarkable Andy Warhol-themed event as part of Croydon’s superb Warhol Month. The festival, which marks thirty years since the death of the artist, has been running throughout September and has included talks, exhibits, workshops and film screenings. It’s the brainchild of Kevin Zuchowski-Morrison, founder of RISE Gallery in St George’s Walk, who to Croydon’s good fortune just happens to be a leading expert on the subject.
There’s no link at all between Warhol and Croydon, and therefore no reason for any of it. This has been pointed out – though I’ve no idea why. Since when did we need a reason to fill the streets with art, learn, enjoy and make our town a more exciting place? I don’t think it’s far-fetched to say that a festival like this one makes us members of the global artistic community. A creator like Warhol belongs to everyone.
I also chose the night walk because autumn evenings are just so depressing. I hoped that a blaze of art might help with the grimness of ever-earlier darkness and suspend, at least for a while, the threat of Christmas. And indeed it did; the walk was a wonderful experience. It was also free, as is every aspect of Warhol Month, which intends to include everyone. It wasn’t hosted by Kevin Zuchowski-Morrison himself; he was at the Braithwaite Hall with international art expert Henry Koelsch, who had flown in from the United States to lecture. So enthusiast Mark Bevan took his place and did a great job, leading our group around the twelve town centre locations and telling us knowledgeably about the works.
The twelve pieces are inspired by Warhol and pay tribute to him. Find out more about each one, and about the artists, here. The walk has already been expertly reviewed by the Citizen’s Bernadette Fallon so I’ll only add to this the sense of drama I felt in seeing the works after dark. Their vivid pop art sensibility mirrors the night-time cityscape of Croydon: Boxpark’s blacks and reds, Saffron’s purple, the Whitgift Centre’s electric blue, the green of a tram flashing by.
The only way to end the night was with the man himself, back at RISE Gallery where a number of original works are being exhibited. There’s something amazing about the actual things, the canvas he touched, the materials that the artist’s mind and imagination worked on. After two hours of art appreciation (which had felt like forty-five minutes) I was struck in particular by Warhol’s Jagger. Its colours are extraordinary but it’s such a minimalist piece, capturing the raw presence of the young rock star in so few lines and strokes that you can’t help but wonder at it. A tiny kink in a line on paper and our brains do the rest, creating those cheekbones from nothing. It’s a work of genius.
Many, many thanks to Kevin Zuchowski-Morrison and RISE Gallery for Warhol Month. Exciting, thought-provoking art – just down Croydon High Street.