I passed by this mural, by UK-based street artist Sweet Toof, while walking up Flushing Avenue in Brooklyn on the way to the Great Big Bacon Picnic. I have no idea how long it’s been up, but the building is near the corner of Whipple Street.
It’s really been years since we spotted any work by the mysterious British Street Artist Sweet Toof in the neighborhood, but maybe that is just because we do not know where to look! Immediately recognizable for the distinctive, over-sized Gums on the character, this cheerful mural can be found at the northeast corner of Broome and Bowery in downtown Manhattan.
Update: Sweet Toof (
@onlysweettoof) recently tweeted at me to inform me that this shutter mural is actually a collaboration between him and DarkClouds. So, thanks for that!
Through the 1980s and into the ‘90s, Sweet Toof built his career and reputation as a prolific street/graffiti artist across his home country of England. In recent years, this enigmatic artist has moved from the street into the gallery with his paintings and sculptures, often depicting paint roller-wielding, smartly dressed skeletal protagonists, each sharing one very distinguishing facial feature. Sweet Toof’s first New York solo exhibition, Dark Horse is now showing at Brooklyn’s Factory Fresh Gallery. The Worley Gigrecommends this show as a Must See!
Sweet Toof’s work – which is instantly recognizable for its subjects’ trademark over-sized teeth set in swollen gums – is heavily influenced by the Vanitas Paintings of sixteenth century Europe, Mexico’s Day of the Dead, Subway Art and the underground comics of Vaughn Bodé. While there is a good deal of visual humor in his work, Sweet Toof takes on darker subjects such as free speech (and lack thereof), colonialism, political revolution and death; but his paintings are provocative enough to be open to a wide range of interpretations. He is definitely an artist whose strident voice doesn’t preclude leaving the viewer free to find his or her own meaning in his very unique art. Factory Fresh Gallery co-owner Ali Ha was also super friendly and very excited to answer any questions we had about the show. I enjoyed Dark Horse very much and it was way worth the short trek to Brooklyn! I’m looking forward to visiting this space again for future exhibits.
Before leaving the neighborhood, be sure to take a leisurely stroll up and down the one-block long side street bordering the gallery’s south face, not only to check out a ton of other colorful street art and graffiti but also to see the “gum line” that Sweet Toof has painted across the full length of the top of one of the buildings (see photo below).
Sweet Toof’s Dark Horse Runs Through May 22, 2011 at Factory Fresh, Located at 1053 Flushing Avenue between Morgan and Knickerbocker (off the Morgan stop on the L train) in Brooklyn, NY. Gallery Hours are Wednesday – Sunday from 1-7 PM.