The tool of choice for the hit-and-run urban artist, stencils have been a major part of the graffiti scene since the 1960s – growing in popularity as the whole movement gained momentum through the 1970s and ’80s. Designed as a quick method of getting a message up without being “called out” or caught, stencils were designed to fit into backpacks or hidden underneath coats to avoid detection by the authorities. Hidden from view from the beginning, stencil work remains something of a mystery to those on the outside looking in, but a new show at Berlin gallery Urban Nation is helping to shed light on the shadowy technique with the help of some legendary practitioners.
Although Hugo Kaagman and Jef Aerosol have both been at it since the late ’70s, their involvement in the Cut It Out event is the first time they had met. The pair played a starring role in this exhibition, inspiring their colleagues as the group created new in-gallery canvas works as well as wall and car pieces out on the streets. Once considered rather naughty, stencil art has nevertheless been an important voice for political expression, and schools and colleges are being invited to watch the event unfold and learn about the movement’s historical significance. Names such as Stencil King and Epsylon Point are involved, with participants lending tools, materials and archive imagery along with their practical skills to build up a comprehensive picture of stencil art then and now. Closing date for the show, curated by Olly Walker (who captions our photos) and Henrik Haven, is 27 February.