Originally a writer, influential artist Ben Eine is now one of London’s most prolific artists, specialising in typographical art. The archetype of contemporary UK street-art, Eine’s ‘21st Century City’ was famously gifted to Barack Obama by David Cameron in 2010, and can be seen daily on his canvas of choice: the walls and shutters of shops around London. ‘Alphabet Street’, his most iconic work to date, is an unbounded mural, filling the concrete spaces of Middlesex Street, London, with his characteristically colourful lettering.
Eine first came to prominence in the “commercial” graffiti scene through his symbiotic partnership with London graffiti artist Banksy. In 2010 the UK Prime Minister David Cameron gifted his artwork to President Obama, while a particular area of the East End was named ‘Alphabet City’ after his colourful array of shopfront ‘shutter art’. Currently, Ben Eine’s work is held in the permanent collections of the V&A, London, The Museum of Modern Art, Los Angeles and galleries worldwide, while his street artworks can be seen all over the world, most recently he completed a huge mural on the British Embassy in Abu Dhabi.
The beauty of Eine’s work lies in its puzzle-like form: though word based, Eine’s prints are about a love of the letter, and, as such, they become a place where sense gets lost. Eine makes his viewer work to decipher his writing because this is, first and foremost, a celebration of font and graphics - of the shapes, curves, colours and lines, and the beauty therein. Opting for bold and often retro palettes, Eine’s work refuses to shade into the background, making itself heard as it shouts letters, words and phrases at its viewer, in the most iconic of tones. In 2013 Eine found a new champion of his work in millionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson. Branson’s airline Virgin Atlantic displayed 10 works by the artist in their upper-class clubhouses at Heathrow and New York’s JFK airport. The innovative move allowed passengers travelling between London and New York to view the works in a “virtual gallery” and acquire paintings by the shutter-painting superstar.