Sweet Revenge: Sweet Toof Interview
With his latest show, Sweet Revenge, having just opened at the Colour Works in Hackney, London street artist Sweet Toof returns to his hometown with an introspective of his work as a reaction to the Olympic buffing of East London. Having paved his way as a graffiti artist in the 80s and 90s, mixing letter forms and street style with more formal art practice inspired heavily by the Mexican Day of the Dead and Vanitas paintings of 16th Century Europe, he rose to fame as part of the Burning Candy crew and has since split off to hone his own craft worldwide.
We headed out to Hackney for the opening night of the show and then spoke to Sweet Toof to get a bit of an insight into the thought and ideas behind the work. The show’s free entry, and open till August 19th at The Colour Works – 117 Wallis Road – Hackney – E9 5LN.
What’s an average day in the life of Sweet Toof?
Brush teeth, coffee, jog, shower, Paint, Lunch, More painting, put out rubbish, collect more junk, wash hands, drink beer, go out get up.
If you could paint anywhere in the world, alongside any artist, where would it be and who with?
Brazil would be a good place, Teeth with Os Gemeos
As well as the Subway Art/Wildstyle education absorbed by so many of your generation, you also have a more formal art training, what and where did you study? How do you think this has influenced your work and differentiates you from self trained street artists?
Painting at the Royal Academy schools gave me time to develop and study painting, The streets are my playground.
You made your name on the streets before you began exhibiting, how did you find the transition into the more formal art world?
I have always done both, one feeds the other.
Do you consider your gallery work to be heavily related to your street pieces, or are they separate entities? How do you approach canvas pieces differently?
The gallery work is my way of sharing my vision. Relating to my surroundings. The streets are a way of keeping on my toes.
Despite being colourful and happy by aesthetic, your teeth pieces remind me of that all too famous dream of teeth falling out, something that apparently symbolizes apprehension. What are the motif’s behind the teeth for you?
I see teeth every day, most people have them. I have had the teeth falling out dream, but wanted to paint something which was simple and quick to bomb up and which could be pushed in to painting
You parted ways with Burning Candy crew in 2010, are you currently painting alongside other artists or is it more of a solo thing right now?
I Paint with any like minded people, been working with Pins recently.
You’ve exhibited worldwide now, with shows in New York, LA and Amsterdam recently. Is London still where the heart is? How do exhibitions here compare and differ to those further afield for you?
London is like a magnet, my heart is where I stomp. Each city has its challenge. New York is tuff getting up, LA is Gangster, Amsterdam is Chill.
What kind of mind state would you like people to walk into the show with, and what would you like them to take away from it?
Open minded when they come in and to take away a smile.
Speaking of Hackney, the buffers have been hard at work in the build up to the Olympics. Has it effected many of your pieces? What are your thoughts on the attitude they’ve taken towards graff and street art during the Olympic campaign?
The Buff has been interesting, some got half buffed, some got lost some made into a cheesey Coke ad. Now it’s a clean slate.
What else have you got planned for the rest of 2012?
If the world was really ending, what would be on the top of your to do list?
Brushing my teeth
Cheers for the time! Any last words?
Sleep when you are dead….