Bullets Straight From the Heart is the debut solo exhibition from the Yorkshire born, Hackney based artist AK47, featuring a series of works comprising of stencils, painted bullets and Perspex heart shaped mirrors with words spelled out by bullets. To see what the words say you need to look at them head on, placing you in the firing line as your reflection stares back at you.
The man behind this exhibition is Andy Link, a Leeds United fan and art lover whose former careers include acid house promoter and porn producer.
I meet Andy at the exhibition in Redchurch Street on a Sunday when Shoreditch is a hive of activity, thronging with tourists from overseas and from South and West London.
When I arrive two arty types are wanting to know more about the exhibition and Andy is keen to help them out with information and flyers. Legendary club promoter Sean McLuskey who promoted The Brain in the late 80s and the Scala in the 90s is also hovering in the background, as the gallery is one of his latest ventures.
In the middle of the floor is an arms box with baby blue and pink painted bullets on top of it. “I love this box” Andy exclaims, “I can get 4 AK47s in here”. I wonder round the works, say hello to Sean and then head off to the pub with Andy for a chat.
As we wind our way through the streets Andy takes photos of any new street art he spots on the walls. On Rivington Street he points out that this is where he saw his first Banksy. He does so with an infectious enthusiasm I didn’t expect from a man who had kidnapped one of Banksy’s works in a guerilla art stunt. Andy is still a fan of Banksy’s work if not the man himself. He also admires the art of Tracey Emin and Marcel Duchamp, who questioned the whole notion of what makes art back in 1917. As an artist with an eye for a publicity stunt it’s no surprise that he’s also a fan of Warhol.
At the pub Andy explains that his work is, and probably always will be, trench art as there’s an endless supply of decommissioned ammunitions. He likes the idea of turning an instrument of death into an instrument of pleasure. However, Andy prefers to call his work Ditch Art rather than Trench Art; firstly due to the fact he hasn’t served in the military, like many trench art practitioners, and also because his art is more shallow than a trench. It’s also of course from Shoreditch.
This all fits into Andy’s philosophy of taking the piss. He loves his art but he’s always light hearted about it. Andy’s enthusiasm is part due to his involvement in the scene for the last 10 years whilst he has been dealing in art. He runs through names of local artists with the passion you’d expect to be reserved for the Leeds United 1972 FA Cup winners squad. Stik, Otto Schade, Paul Insect, could be just as well be Bremner, Gray and Jones.
Andy’s feeling satisfied with his first solo exhibition. Plenty of his peers turned up at the opening and he feels that a solo exhibition now puts him on the map as an artist in his own right.
He’s already got his eyes on his next project, which may well involve flags and AK47s. In the meantime a documentary about the kidnap of Banksy’s ‘Drinker’ is well under way.
Bullets Straight From The Hearts is on now
12 noon - 7 pm. FREE ENTRY
THE MAURICE EINHARDT MEU GALLERY
30a Redchurch Street London E2 7DP