I first encountered ALO whilst prowling Shoreditch alleyways in search of good street art. We chanced to find to find one muralist at work, occupied with a linear, yellowish image of a young woman on the blackening concrete of a corner building. One of my companions, a friend from grad school of a much more gregarious nature than I, struck up a conversation with the concentrated painter. He was soon bubbling forth proudly, in cheerful Italian-drenched tones, about his easily-identifiable portraits.
He calls his style “urban expressionism,” and indeed there’s something citified and emotive about his svelte, geometric figures. With squared off shoulders, bulbous heads and stick-thin necks, shocks of technicolour hair, patchwork skintones, asymmetrical almond-shaped eyes and all the just-right accessories, they bewilder and endear themselves to viwers at once. ALO pulls forth funky, slightly alien and dizzying representations of friends, faces passed on the street and even a famous idol or two.
Over the few years that fill the gap between then and now, I’ve been pleased to hear of ALO’s successful endeavours; how time in the studio paid off on the streets as his work spread from Italy to London, Paris and Berlin, and how he’s occasionally aligned himself with the Saatchi Gallery.
After a 2014 solo exhibition in Saatchi’s Prints & Originals Gallery, coined Hail to the Loser, he was welcomed back earlier this year for round two — Exit From Aden: New Works hung in the downstairs space throughout March 2017.
I’m now extra pleased to remind all that additional pieces on paper and card from ALO’s latest series, Exit From Aden: The Unshown Works, will still be on view in the Prints & Originals Gallery for a couple more days. You can catch them on the lower level of the Saatchi Gallery until 23 March, and walk/click on over to the Saatchi Store to pick one of this burgeoning artist’s portraits for keeps.