For those familiar with the street work of Mau Mau, it may come as a surprise that this is his first solo UK show. What won’t come as a surprise for those who visit the London West Bank Gallery is that the show is delivered with exactly the kind of playfulness and fun his characters are known for. As the title of the show ‘Pigs Might Fly’ suggests Mau Mau makes use of pig characters on a number of pieces, the ‘3 Little Pigs’ cast brass pieces proving exceptionally popular with the buyers packed into this bustling, busy gallery, whilst Mau Mau’s most infamous of characters the ‘Fox’ features heavily throughout alongside a number of other standalone one off pieces – ‘HIM’ arguably being one of the more impressive works.
As I make my way through the packed first room of the gallery where the majority of the pieces hang I see instantly recognisable ‘Bite is Worse Than The Bark’ pieces hanging on central columns whilst the walls display, amongst others, 2 of my favourite pieces: ‘Mau Mau Inc’ and ‘Shell Reaper’ both in typical Mau Mau tongue in cheek style. As you reach the far end of the first room you are guided up a spiral staircase decorated from bottom to top with fox shaped characters as per the ‘Bite..’ pieces and at the top you arrive in what seems to be a cupboard. In front of you is ‘High Brow’ and on each side a wardrobe door. Only when someone comes through each of the doors do you realise they actually step into 2 further rooms. On the left is the larger of the 2, housing the show title pieces as well as another of my favourites the Mau Mau / ZHE 155 collab: ‘Dogtown Surf Love’. Also on one wall are 2 painted cupid style Foxes cleverly positioned just above the door way to create the image of them firing arrows into anyone who passes into the room.
The room to the right of the staircase is the one which gives the opportunity for the artist to fully showcase the humour and creativity he has become known and admired for. As you step through you enter 2 smaller rooms, one accessed through faux fencing, where you are then immersed into Mau Mau’s world and in particular that of his ‘Fox’ character. On the floor are several bags of ‘swag’ with a Fox sat amongst them, cone on head, looking every bit the cheeky urban fox Mau Mau has created in paint over the years along train lines, on buildings and in other hard to reach places across East London.. In the other corner a fellow Fox character sits on top of a bin, eating KFC popcorn chicken and watching chickens on TV whilst reading a (real!) tabloid story about a fox attacking a man. This instantly makes people smile as they enter the room and is a brilliant 3D version of ‘TV Dinner’. The room also hosts another cheeky, interactive piece but if you want more info on that you will just have to visit the London West Bank Gallery – and be quick the show is only running until Sunday May 13th and they may just have sold everything by then!! —TenThree