Signal Gallery's title for this show, 2 + 2, refers to the artists – two painters and two stencil artists – brought together to intermix their styles, blurring the boundaries between street art and fine art. The curation works very well, and there are sharp contrasts between the works of all the artists, each bringing the other into greater focus.

For me, Michal Janowski's work is simply striking – image after image of semi-human, semi-animal creatures with the ability to both fascinate and recoil. Janowski said he is influenced by the shamans of Native American Indian mythology and likes to work on the threshold between nature and reality, exploring that space between the rationality of science and the spiritual. 

It certainly seems to be a shifting, interior space: Janowski's images are all bound shut in some way, either covered in the white mask of Permanent Liminality, or submerged behind the animal imagery of Shape Shifting as a Favourite Method of Deception, pushing the viewer to connect with the emotional intensity of the paintings. The fineness of Janowski's techniques are remarkable: trained at East Anglia, he produces paintings that combine the painterly drips and sploshes made with coffee on Assassin of the Fake Sanity, with a masterly handling of shadow to define the face shape and animal horns into a crisp three-dimensionality. 

Against this deep interiority, SPQR's street art speaks loudly of the issues of the street.  Using a largely monochrome, stencil technique, SPQR's work is hard-hitting and vocal.  Distant Echoes conjures up the pent-up energy of soldiers marching purposefully towards combat, the gas masks worn by the men suggestive of death as they replicate the imagery of a skeletal skull and spine. I liked the energy of this painting as well as its inference that it is a generalised and pervasive energy – men battling for a higher cause – at once strident and, perhaps, ultimately, ineffective. 

The idea that this is the art of the streets comes through in the stencil technique, an apparently pared-down simplicity for an art concerned with shouting out its basic message, but which is belied by the complexity of its shadowing from the blank white of the canvas and the use of black and greys to create three-dimensional depth. 

Similarly, Joe Iurato's street art is highly complex. We are, once again, on the outside: a lone man on the street in Persephone's Gone, or the pair of shoes descending a metal staircase in the industrialised, male space of Developing a Pattern, create a sense of transience in these images – actions that are impermanent and will pass, just as the scenario of the street is a continuously developing diorama. 

Although, the apparently simplicity of his techniques, once again turn out to be a foil as stencilled monochrome images combine to create three-dimensionality from shadows.  The images sit on carbonised steel grounds, which have been treated with acetone drips and brushing techniques to create backgrounds with ambiguous depths and patinas of age.

The artist Bael's work takes on another dimension. Working in a fine, graphic, outline technique, Bael decided to tackle the subject of the female nude for this show. Bael stated that he has been influenced by Egon Schiele, and his interest in the expressiveness to be achieved through line is evidenced here as he worked to capture the tension in the pose of the female nude. I liked the monochrome quality of Nokturn and Ero, paintings in acrylic with charcoal outlines. Their simplicity allows for an expression of femininity without voyeurism, although there is an inevitable element of sexuality about the images. An interesting juxtaposition is the inclusion of three drawings by Bael, including a study for Ero, which allows the viewer a glimpse of the artist's transfer from ink drawing to acrylic painting.

This show at the Signal Gallery is well worth a visit. I really liked the concept: the differences and similarities between these four artists add a really interesting dimension to the show. It would be tempting to argue that street art is a less-refined cousin to fine art, since it is based on the reductive stencil, acting as a template for transience, being in the moment and making a loud point through impact rather than the reflective complexity of fine art techniques. However, as this show reveals, this is far from the case: all the artists in the show engage deeply with their art within their own frameworks, resulting in a cohesive, well-balanced exhibition.

2 + 2, at Signal GalleryRita Fennell reviews 2 + 2, a group exhibition at Signal Gallery.4