Saturday, February 10, 2007

Secret Wars - Q final 2 - 27th Jan @ Juno


Photography by Micheal Antoniou
Woohoo, the second night in the quarterfinal stage of the Secret Wars tournament is finally here. The night saw the biggest artists in the whole first series fight with all guns blazing. Without a doubt the night superseded any of the previous battles in terms of crowd turn out. Juno bar was officially packed to the rafters with eager fans desperate to get a glimpse of their favourite artist’s piece. Due to the overcrowding even the artists had minimal foot space behind their walls, which meant they really had to concentrate on what they were drawing, as it would be impossible to stand back and observe the piece as a whole.

First battle of the night was between Bristol’s Sickboy and Kingston’s Alfamale. Both artists have two totally different battle styles, with Sickboy’s quirky and random approach contrasting to Alfamale’s more dark and sinister line of attack.

With less of a status in the Graff world, Alfamale had more of a challenge on his hands, but he certainly had loads of support in the crowds and once the battle got off to a start it was pleasure to watch both of the guys at work.

Sickboy on the far left of the wall, decided to follow suit with a similar style to that of his winning piece from his first battle back in October. Drawn was a factory-like building with a tree growing from the roof, symbolising the difference between the two mediums of nature and man-made, fake produce. This was shown through the image of an apple which both appeared on the tree, but also on and around the factory. At the top left of the piece there was written the slogan, “Why eat an apple…when you can bite my style.” Because of the quote the idea sprang to mind that Sickboy was making a direct attack at the artists that sell-out and seek commercialism as a way of making money. Just as the tree grows apples, the factory also produces apples, which get boxed up and sent away. Sickboy even drew an apple in a television set showing how marketable it can be. The apple, it appears, represents the artists drawing or style, whilst the small crying character in the centre of the tree appears to be a symbolic representation of an artist who is so far removed and isolated from the actual art.

It was ironic therefore that Alfamale chose to draw a city scene where the only buildings on show were imitations of Sickboy’s famous temple design. Alfamale, whose love of the whole battle theme certainly helped out in earlier stages of the tournament, certainly didn’t let the crowd down. In the foreground was a temple with Alfa’s skull character emblazoned on the roof. The background consisted of a giant baby character in a romper suit, with what looked like chicken pock’s, (an obvious direct attack at Sickboy’s name), stomping on all the temple’s whilst ripping several of them from the ground with it’s arm. Very bold in design, there were also little details to be found, such as the dummy hanging from the baby’s wrist, as well as the “?” on the dancing character’s hat in the foreground of the piece.

Once time was over it was left for judges Lunartik and Whiteman of Non-Permanent to cast their votes alongside the clap meter, which rendered (much to his surprise) Alfamale the winner. Who would be next to join him in the semi-finals, only the next battle would decide.

After a short interval featuring entertainment from the likes of beat boxing sensation Dirty Harry, the second battle could begin. The two artists fighting it out for the chance to meet Alfamale in the semi-finals were 5683 and Inkie.

In his piece artist 5683 attacked Inkie’s status more than his name; it was a clever and slightly different approach than winner Alfamale. Composed was a piece consisting of a gigantic eyeball headed angel, seated in a wheel chair. This angel character had an arrow shot right through the centre of it’s eyeball head with the words, “All Hail St. Inky” written above. The line was meant as a diss towards Inky who is obviously a noted graff artist. The statement attached to the picture gave mixed messages. Whilst the illustration clearly showed a frail, crippled character that would not really be idolised by anyone, The statement in comparison was in favour of Inkie as if the name was falsely put next to the character by mistake. Even a little fly character was drawn with the slogan, “Ain’t nowt but a dying eyeball” next to it. This gave the impression that the attack could also be focused on the fact that Inkie is probably one of the oldest artists in the competition. This idea was also confirmed with yet another statement from another one of 5683’s talking fly characters saying, “where’s Inkie? Gone to bed”. Even the t-shirt that the St.Inkie character was wearing read “I love 5683”.

Inkie always similar in his style stuck to what he knows best, with his traditional girl character although with a different twist. As well as his usual fine detail drawings, Inkie also managed to incorporate the theme of the battle into his piece by drawing a skeleton character with the numbers 5683 etched in the skull. If that wasn’t bad enough Inkie also attacked 5683 with several slogans of his own. One read, “Ain’t nothing but a number” and the other, “Art classes you can’t afford” as if to say that 5683 had no credible art talent. Even Inkie’s usually pristine girl character made a swipe at 5683 with two statements, one discreetly written on a lock of the characters hair, reading, “your mumma ain’t hot like this” whilst the characters medallion read, “coz you ain't down” as if to say that 5683 didn’t have a clue what was cool. The rest of the piece consisted of Inkie’s traditional style with giant plants and flowers filling the space behind.

Even though both pieces were very clever in design, there could only be one winner. Who would the judges and the crowd go for? Would the newcomer or the veteran win? It was down to the clap meter and the crowd cheered to determine Inkie as the fourth and final quarterfinal champion of the tournament. He now awaits Alfamale at the semi finals in February alongside Teck 1 who is battling Gustav Balderdash for a place at the Grand Final on March 31st. Ooh the excitement is just getting too much. Secret Wars is even going on a little UK tour to let off some steam. They are hitting Birmingham on the 17th of February, Brighton on the 3rd of March and Southampton on the 15th March with even more in the pipeline. Don’t forget to check for more details on the tournament and any information about the forthcoming tours.

Gabriella Weekes

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