Hearts Gang’s Handsome Gentlemen exhibition is a Coventry must-see

Sometimes you find fantastic gems in the most unlikely of places.
On an old industrial estate back from a row of pizza takeaways is the debut exhibition, Handsome Gentlemen, from a bunch of “Coventry creatives”, the Hearts Gang.
Officially the address is Unit 7 of Fargo Creative Village, off Far Gosford Street in Coventry. The exhibition is on from 2-8pm, and if you go after dark watch out for the trip hazards and careering vehicles on your way to find the Unit across a dark car park. But it’s worth it!


This is a really exciting development on the Coventry arts scene.
Many Coventry arts happenings seem to stem from people who met through a common source – frequently Coventry University, or Artspace, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But although the artists in this exhibition may have contacts within both groups, they seem to be just an assortment of city people who know each other, or a “rabble”, and haven’t come to staging this exhibition through conventional means.
Bring Colour – who Facebook tells me is otherwise called John – said they had been planning an exhibition in an empty shop for ages, then this empty warehouse space became available.
The white walls are well decorated with works by a number of artists from the Hearts Gang of tattooists, graffiti artists and photographers.
Graffiti art is painted directly on to the walls, or colours come tumbling off canvases to create the whole image, one including a building that looks suspiciously like Coventry Cathedral. There are cartoon and Manga influences, plus a bit of flower power in the colours.
The photos of Kevin Donnelly stand out – this young man is going places. Actually, he’s already been quite a few places, and either he has found trouble, or trouble has found him, in all of them. There’s a photograph of a woman suicide being dragged from the water in Hong Kong, trouble on the London streets, a protest in Paris, and a great one of a shirtless young man grinning at him as he’s bent over a car being arrested in Los Angeles.
Kevin said the only one that was staged was one using light brilliantly to show a scary, hooded stranger on a path – and that path is nearer to home, between Willenhall and Stoke Aldermoor.
Kevin said he’s been to university in Bangkok and England and dropped out both times, and says he believes you don’t need to study photography at university to do well, and he proves it, but at 23 he’s happy to state his ambition is to be World’s Best Photographer.
Now he’s temporarily back home in Willenhall saving money for more travels, though he’s just been to Poland, the Ukraine and Belgium – where he got put up in a five star hotel to take band photos. He’s not only going to be showing in a Coventry warehouse for long. You can see more of his work for now at http://itchylabels.tumblr.com/
The beautifully-named Body Odour has contributed several works including Easter Island-style heads, one on its own in a LoveBox on the wall, and loads in a wooden box on the floor – they’re great.
Abel has created Jesus-inspired paintings in spray paints, and Andrew John Smith, whose artist’s statement reveals he has been inside a cell, creates tattoo-style drawings which look beautiful but spell out statements such as “Exceptional Pickpocket”.
The exhibition is only on until November 17, so get there before you miss the chance to say you saw it.

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