Cartrain is a British street artist, who became known for impeccable artworks and astute social commentary. A vital theme throughout Cartrain’s career has been an intelligent sense of humour and acerbic wit, resulting in a sharp and thought-provoking critique of modern society. From George Bush and Queen Elizabeth II to Kim Jong Un characterised as Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe, no one is safe from the impeccable screen printing and the raw unmediated power of street art.
Since the age of twelve Cartrain started experimenting with graffiti in his home town of Leytonstone. However, because “no one [paid] any notice”, aged fifteen he began working in the creative hub of East London near Brick Lane, but also daring to make his mark in Central London, spraying walls and making political statements on the walls opposite the Houses of Parliament.
He rose to prominence after the famous 2008 dispute with Damien Hirst over his works For the Love of Art, which featured images of Hirst’s skull sculpture For the Love of God. Even though Cartrain handed over the works after Hirst contacted the Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS) demanding legal action against him, the incident has only been resolved temporary. In July 2009, Cartrain made headlines again after he walked into Tate Britain and removed a packet of Faber Castell 1990 Mongol 482 series pencils from Damien Hirst’s installation, Pharmacy. Cartrain then made a fake police “Wanted” poster, which was distributed around London, stating that the pencils had been stolen and if anyone had any information they should call the police on the phone number advertised. Later on, Cartrain made this statement:
“For the safe return of Damien Hirst’s pencils I would like my artworks back…it’s not a large demand; he can have his pencils back when I get my artwork back. Hirst has until the end of this month to resolve this or on 31st of July the pencils will be sharpened. He has been warned.”
Cartrain is not only known for his heavy weight art world enemies but also his friends; Gilbert and George are known to be supporters of his work as well as Banksy, who has presented the artist with his own signed artwork. Gilbert and George have famously used a piece of Cartrain’s work in their exhibition at the White Cube in 2014.
Cartrain is also known for placing his artworks in museum and galleries until those are removed as fakes. His works have been on the walls of Tate Modern, National Gallery and British Museum.
Fast establishing himself as a favourite among critics and collectors alike, Cartrain is a driving force behind the thriving street art scene in London today.
“Cartrain is one to watch for 2015” – The Media Eye
“A graffiti artist made me want to cheer yesterday. I laughed out loud. I got it.” – Jonathan Jones (The Guardian)
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