Pioneer of aerosol X-ray art SHOK-1 has produced a new conceptual painting entitled ‘Elvis’ at the Truman Brewery in London. The piece is rendered entirely in freehand spraypaint and depicts a closeup X-ray of the pelvis of Elvis Presley.
The work examines cultural appropriation; the artist describes it as a kind of imaginary debate between Chuck D, Warhol and himself. Elvis has been accused of appropriating black culture and popularising it for a mainstream audience. In his time, his sexualised dance moves earned him the nickname ‘Elvis the Pelvis’. Although initially considered shocking and disgusting by the establishment, they also greatly helped his rise to fame.
The piece could be seen as an allegory for the relationship between graffiti and street art – the latter could be viewed as a mainstream, acceptable version of the grimier and less palatable former.
The painting is presented in black on a silver background, referring to the palette of the famous Elvis paintings by Warhol. The silver was said to refer to the ‘silver screen’ of Hollywood and related to Warhol’s obsession with fame. Shok uses the colours to make a wry point : ‘Silver and black are also the backbone of orthodox graffiti, often used in pursuit of fame – ironically the Writers’ own silver screen”.