Fanakapan Helios exhibition in London celebrates balloons and cartoons

It’s an unusual topic choice for sure but the second solo London based exhibition from Fanakapan does indeed choose to remember the discovery of Helium 150 years to the day.

Perhaps though it’s not so suprising. Especially that is when you realise that the artist has been making a bit of a name for himself with his depiction of helium filled balloons. Drawn often onto the streets of London he has been carefully honing his technique and getting ever more creative with his art. The balloons, the type which you can buy at gift stores for birthday parties, have helped him to forge a style which has been both admired and copied.

Sonic the Hedgehog balloon drawing by Fanakapan

Helium therefore has been pretty important in terms of shaping the artist he is today. That and the fact that he also thought the anniversary was too good to miss. Discovered during the observations of a solar eclipse on 18 August 1868. The gas would become known for it’s versatility. It’s now used in MRI scanning and superconducting magnets. It’s not all just novelty balloons spelling out cheeky words.

We’ve featured Fanakapan a number of times on the blog and through following the scene via our instagram account over the years. His first London solo show in 2016 featured balloon shaped art along a similar line and he expanded on this with his first international exhibition in New York the year after. Combining the studio work with ever bigger and bolder street pieces the artist has undoubtedly become one of the most sought after on the street art scene.

Spongebob balloon drawing from Fanakapan


Now in 2018 his exhibition at the 5th Base Gallery features another twist with the balloons featuring characters from his childhood. The likes of Sonic the Hedgehog, Spongebob Squarepants and the Simpsons all get an airing. His style is to recreate the balloons in his studio. Sometimes buying them complete with the characters already on and sometimes getting blank balloons and painting them onto them himself. He will stage them to get the lighting and effect he wants before photographing them and painting them onto the canvas.

The exhibition also gives a nod to a few of his friends work. Envol, formerly part of the Horror Crew with Fanakapan, included a piece called ‘Akhet’. Meaning sunrise, it was he says a tribute to an artist who has “risen to become one of the most acclaimed street artists in recent years.” The likes of Nuno Viegas and Jask have also added their additions. Viegas painting a floating fat cap with the work from Sheffield’s Jask coming in the form of augmented reality. A games designer in his real life, the artist has brought the works to life via a smartphone so that they pop off the canvas and float around the gallery. You can check them out on Snapchat here.

Giant ‘UP Yours’ mural from Fanakapan outside the 5th Base Gallery


It’s not just the work in the gallery though which has caused a stir. Inside a giant wall contains a balloon inspired mural of the grandad from the Pixar movie ‘UP’ holding a bunch of balloons which say ‘UP Yours’. It’s a mural that he’s had in mind for a while although surprisingly couldn’t get the permissions to paint it anywhere. The resultant image though is more playful than offensive. He even managed to make a mini-print of it, given away free at the exhibition it was a bit of a treat.

The mural adds to an impressive body of work from the artist over the years. Just down the road on Brick Lane even now there is another mural on the front of Magna Donuts. An anamorphic piece of work it’s designed to pop out of the wall when you see it from a certain angle. It sits at the entrance to the star yard, one of the most popular spots for street art in East London and where the artist really started to get his work out there and known. One things for sure though, there will be a lot more to come from this talented artist.

Helios the exhibition from Fanakapan showed at the 5th Base Gallery on Heneage Street, Brick Lane from 16 August 2018 to 22 August 2018. 

Helios Gallery

‘HIGH’ Canvas from Fanakapan
‘High five’ by Fanakapan
Maggie star shaped balloon
Spongebob star shaped balloon
Sideshow Bob star shaped balloon
fanakapan patrick star
Patrick Star by Fankakapan
envol fanakapan
Akhet tribute piece from Envol
fanakapan nuno viegas
A floating fat cap from Nuno Viegas
The print release from the show, a star shaped Sonic the Hedgehog
Fanakapan painting on the side of Magna Donuts on Brick Lane
The finished anamorphic mural on Brick Lane
A quick ‘FAN’ throw up on the star yard
Another ‘FAN’ throw up this time in his typical balloon style


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