Vexta, originally from Sydney, is another of Melbourne’s favourite street artists. Vexta’s neon drenched street paintings, paste ups and stencils can be seen in and around the suburbs of Melbourne. Her stencils are filled with carefully selected bright colours and are intricately cut, they lighten up any dark alleyway in Melbourne.
Vexta has traveled and painted around the world including Paris, Berlin, London, Sydney, Brisbane and Bogota. Her recent show “Across Neon Lights” at Goodtime Studios In Carlton (Melbourne) was beautiful, showing off her renowned neon colours and detailed mix of painting and stencil print skills.
I caught up with Vexta to talk about the upcoming show in SF, Young and Free, and her art in general.
LM: You must be excited about ‘Young and Free’. What do you think about this amazing opportunity and the impact it will have on the awareness of Melbourne, and Australian, street art and artists?
Vexta: I can’t wait to get over there, I really love San Francisco so its super exciting to be showing there. San Francisco has such a rich history of street art and murals and 941 Gallery is a massive warehouse space so it’s going to be lots of fun for all of us to hang out and make work there. It’s a total honour to be showing alongside so many fine Australian street artists as well. I think Young & Free will help to show that Australian street art is just like other street art from the southern hemisphere, in that its just as great as what happening in the north of the world.
LM: Tell me about your background. How did you get into street art?
Vexta: Well, I was doing quite a lot of travel in the early 2000s. After an massive trip traveling across the Australian outback and SE Asia, I arrived back in Melbourne just when street art was beginning to boom. I guess from traveling I was really aware of landscapes and the interplay of elements in our physical environments so the art just jumped out at me. I loved the stencil aesthetic and so I started creating my own pieces, wandering the back laneways of the city late at night, painting. From there I met other street artists and we started doing shows together and going out painting together. Emptyshows were the best – where a group of us would take over an empty/disused building, install art and hold an illegal exhibition.
LM: What does your name mean?
Vexta: It’s just who I am, it’s a bunch of nicknames put together. A good friend use to call me “vex” when we were teenagers growing up together. Adding a “ta” or “ka” to the end of a name is a Czech tradition, My father came here from the Czech Republic so I’m use to my family doing that.
LM: What do you enjoy most about the whole street art process? The creation, the night missions etc?
Vexta: I just love making art in the street. The streets are the heart of any city… it’s the truly free space. It is the space of the people. It’s the place where ideas and interactions happen. I love making work that is free for the people of the city and to be found unexpectedly. Right now, I’m into making work that is more gentle and subtle than the advertising, signage and modern architecture that surround us in our modern cities. I also like leaving these small pieces of art that connect together into a larger story when put them together later in exhibitions. I also have a bit of a thing for underground spaces. I love all of it. Making work in the studio, painting on walls in the sunshine, drawing on walls in the dark of night, driving around wheat pasting, stickering…
LM: Who or what inspires you?
Vexta: I’m inspired by a lot of things – art, music, science, nature. In particular I’m interested in winged creatures, dream states, hallucinations, the night, taking photos and pattern/repeated painting. My friends constantly inspire me with their support and the work they make, people like Kill Pixie, Tai Snaith, Al Stark, Miso not too mention all the Y&F artists…
LM: Which artists are you into at the moment? Local and International.
Vexta: Ah there’s too many to list! Right now I’m hanging out to see Mike Mills’s new film, I love his work. Bjork’s Crystalline app is pretty exciting in the way it mixes art, music and science. Shida is making beautiful work on the local street art front.
LM: Where do you work from and what is your studio space like?
Vexta: At the moment I’m making my work on the fly, travelling for a while. I have a small space in Melbourne and I’m in the process of fixing up a shack in a bit of remnant forest at my family’s house in North Sydney as a studio space and I’ll probably set one up for big work in the inner city for the summer too.
LM: What is always in your “toolkit”?
Vexta: Depends what I’m doing but I always seem to have stickers, markers & caps in my bag….other that – spray paint, acrylic paint, blades, brushes and a glove that I’ve been wearing for about 5 years to keep spray paint off my skin are fairly essential items… oh, and my ipod.
LM: What has been the highlight (or highlights) of your career to date?
Vexta: Probably painting the Cans Festival in London, and painting in the streets & in the slums of Bogota, Colombia.
LM: Your recent show “Across Neon Lights” featured some of your best pieces yet, it was a great show. Tell me about the show and your recent work, I noticed your recent stuff features lots of feathers and butterflies/moths.
Vexta: Thanks, Across Neon Nights was pretty site-specific in some ways I really liked installing the works down in the basement of Goodtime Studios, it was great to use a different space that’s not a traditional gallery for a show. The paintings focused on an ongoing exploration of dreams, hallucinations, nights and the way we relate to the dark…our subconscious states, sex and night creatures like bats & moths. Making the light sculpture, bone installation and the sound loop was super fun. I want to do more of that.
All photos courtesy of Vexta