polaroid photo of artist slawn

Slawn

Collaboration coming soon

polaroid photo of artist slawn

Slawn

What’s appropriate?

“I like to tickle people where they don’t like to be tickled.”

Slawn and his spray paints are taking over the world. His cartoonish scrawl has covered cars, expensive watches, planes and even the FA Cup. Appropriation has a double meaning in Slawn’s work. On one level, he’s staking a claim to these luxury objects. By using these objects instead of a canvas, he inscribes his own meaning on them. More controversial is his ‘appropriation’ of racist caricatures. His black characters feature exaggerated red lips, and are often depicted naked or in voyeuristic situations – all borrowed from minstrelsy. The work titles are also just as provocative e.g. The Irony...

Slawn and his spray paints are taking over the world. His cartoonish scrawl has covered cars, expensive watches, planes and even the FA Cup. Appropriation has a double meaning in Slawn’s work. On one level, he’s staking a claim to these luxury objects. By using these objects instead of a canvas, he inscribes his own meaning on them. More controversial is his ‘appropriation’ of racist caricatures. His black characters feature exaggerated red lips, and are often depicted naked or in voyeuristic situations – all borrowed from minstrelsy. The work titles are also just as provocative e.g. The Irony of a Nigerian Policeman (a nod to Basquiat). Slawn questions how an image is able to elicit such a negative emotional response in the first place – “I just want to get to a place where people feel comfortable with stuff that’s taboo.” 

Slawn’s tongue-in-cheek maximalism is a knowing disguise for deep reflection on ownership, shame and self-perception. For a teenage Slawn, art was a creative outlet among many. However, when the demand for his work started to grow beyond friends and fellow skaters he found himself at the centre of a whirlwind. Slawn plays on his outsider status to form a critique of art world politics that verges on performance. In 2021, he encouraged fans to rally at Saatchi Gallery demanding they add Slawn to their collection. He also uploaded a video offering to sell his infant son to the highest bidder – a biting critique of the racist, colonial history of auctioneering and of his own standing in the art world. Slawn is not your stereotypical artist, but that might be his greatest strength.

Bio

Slawn was born in Lagos in 2000. He now lives and works in London. 

Community

Slawn opened BeauBeau’s Cafe in East London with his partner Tallula Christie as a space for his community to gather. They host regular book clubs, art workshops and events. 

Collectors

Slawn’s collectors don’t all shop in galleries and auction houses. With demand for his paintings on the rise, Slawn began hosting fight clubs in his studio. The winner walked away with an original work.

Collaborations with Slawn

  • New collaboration

    Coming soon