Adnate – Lost Culture at RTIST Gallery Prahran

I dropped into RTIST Gallery yesterday to check out Adnate‘s show Lost Culture. WOW. Very impressed. Another member of the renowned AWOL Crew doing great things.

Combining his amazing hand style and painting skills he explores different cultures through a series of amazing portraits incorporating both ancient typography and his signature lettering.

From the RTIST website:

Adnate has established himself as a unique Street-Portrait Artist. His realistic style is the signature to his work, using spray paint as his main medium.”

Beginning as a graffiti writer more than 10 years ago, Adnate spent most of his youth painting the streets of Melbourne with his letters. He has continued to paint walls in multiple continents, flourishing as an internationally recognised street artist.

In recent years Adnate broke from his obsession of painting letters and begun to study the human form. It was then he quickly realized his passion for portraiture. Inspired by Renaissance artists such as Da Vinci and Caravaggio, he taught himself classical chiaroscuro techniques to communicate drama and emotion in his subjects.

For his most recent exhibition ‘Point of View’ in Berlin, Germany, he took inspiration from his travels through India and Europe. “I’ve seen a lot of faces that have been burnt into my memory. Particularly the kids that experience the lives of adults in India, to people losing their faces in clubs in Berlin. Each piece was an interpretation of a person I saw or met.”

Adnate’s next exhibition will be held at the renowned RTIST Gallery in Melbourne, Australia. This time he has chosen to focus on the historical cultures of Tibetan, Persian and Indigenous Australian. Each with their own alluring beauty and spirituality, they have surpassed cultural genocides due to the depth of their rich culture.

Lost Culture is open now through June 24th.

Photos by Lukey

Reka – Open Studio at Backwoods Gallery

Got an email the other day with some sad new for Melbourne and some awesome news for our friends in Europe and the USA. Reka’s moving overseas and having a final show at Backwoods to celebrate. I love his work on found objects so I’m really looking forward to this show.

From the Backwoods press release:

After a ten year career defacing the streets and gallery walls of Melbourne, Reka is packing up, moving overseas and having one last hurrah. He will be holding an open studio for one night only, displaying a new body of work exclusively painted on found objects.

Using spray cans and rusted metal found from walking the train lines and abandoned factories, Reka has organically used each aspect of his natural element to create a process- driven concept, turning everything from the cans’ paper labels to the folds of oxidised sheet metal into self-contained artworks.

On June 20th, Reka is opening up his studio for a behind the scenes look at his new paintings and mixed media works, plus throwing in some paintings from the past decade for good measure. It’ll be an exhibition and leaving party all rolled into one, so come down and join Reka for a one final beer.

More preview photos after the jump… Continue reading “Reka – Open Studio at Backwoods Gallery”

Interview with Be Free

Be Free. Photo by Rowena Naylor

Be Free is one of my favourite Melbourne street artists. Like many of Melbourne’s street artists, I noticed Be Free just appear out of nowhere a few years ago. Since then it’s always a pleasure to stumble upon a new piece while walking the streets.

Be Free uses real playing cards, string, and other props (even a table and chair) which makes the pieces even more visually exciting and makes them come to life. The pieces are unique and innovative and adds a much needed breath of fresh air into the street art scene, bringing something new and different…

I caught up with Be Free and this is what we talked about…

LM: Tell me about your background. How did you get into street art?

Be Free: I grew up in Adelaide, Australia and then moved to Melbourne to get into the art and music seen. I always liked seeing art on the streets, whether it was tags, pieces or characters as long as it said something to me and made me feel something. So I guess I just really wanted to be a part of the culture.

Be Free. Photo by Rowena Naylor

LM: What does your name mean?

Be Free: I write ‘be free’ as a reminder to myself to stay young and really spend all my time doing what I love and want is important to me. Also as a statement to others that many need to hear those words.

LM: What do you enjoy most about the whole street art process? The creation, the night missions etc?

Be Free: The process is very important for me because it’s quite timely and is the perfect head space, I can really lose myself. The street side of things is the opposite, I feel so alive going out on late night stealth missions.

Be Free. Photo courtesy of Be Free

LM: Who or what inspires you? 

Be Free: So many things but basically I just want to have fun with life. I love dirty gritty walls or spaces that are too plain and they just need to be messed with. Taggers inspire me because their ability to climb up to the top of a building and leave their mark, I always know it’s possible to climb something if there is a tag up there.

LM: Which artists are you into at the moment? Local and International.

Be Free: There are a good handful of artist that I love which are; Shida, Lucy Lucy, Suki, David Choe, Sam Keith(The Maxx), David Mack(Kabuki), Toggs, Mio and Elbow Toe there are to many…

LM: Where do you work from and what is your studio space like?

Be Free: I wish I could afford a studio space, I just live in my art it’s a bit chaotic but it works for now.

Be Free. Photo courtesy of Be Free

LM: What is always in your “toolkit”?

Be Free: Markers, Liquid nail, paste, a bunch of different knifes, cans, gaff and a pack of cards.

LM: What has been the highlight (or highlights) of your career to date?

Be Free: Not sure, the whole thing is a highlight… I just love dripping paint from high places. It’s also amazing to see how people interact with the work. There is one piece I did with the Be Free girl sitting at a table drinking peppermint tea and someone sent me a picture of their little girl drinking tea on the other side of the table with their own tea cup, cute as!

Be Free. Photo by Darcy Gladwin

LM: Tell me your pieces and the use of cards/string/props etc in your work.. I love it! Where did these ideas come from?

Be Free: I got the idea with the cards from a friend in Adelaide, he use to have cards scatted on his walls. A bit of an Alice & Wonderland fan, I loved hanging out in that house and so I just start using that idea with the little girl. I like to think of ways I can try to bring my character in this world, so I like using 3D props like winding string around objects and making little tables and chairs. I love using all kinds of different mediums.

LM: What’s coming up in 2012 and beyond for Be Free?

Be Free: I’ve just started a collaboration project with an amazing artist ‘Erin Greer’; it’s a relationship between a bunch of monsters and a girl. We are going to be painting in the streets & warehouses. We will see where it goes…

Be Free & Erin Greer. Photo courtesy of Be Free

Photos by Darcy Gladwin, Rowena Naylor and courtesy of Be Free

Ghostpatrol – “Cosmic Scale and the Super Future” at Backwoods Gallery

Opening this Friday is Ghostpatrol‘s new show “Cosmic Scale and the Super Future”. Once you see GP‘s characters you’ll know why he is so loved in Melbourne’s street art scene. I LOVE walking down Brunswick st, Fitzroy or around Collingwood and finding new GP pasties and characters. <3

I’m really looking forward to his new show opening Friday at Backwoods Gallery.

From the Backwoods Gallery press release:

The universe is a head-caving behemoth; an undefinable entity whose eternal expansion into the emptiness of space is too vast for a species aware of its magnitude yet too caught up in the minutiae of their own existence to contemplate, much less comprehend. Iconic Melbourne artist Ghostpatrol doesn’t claim to have the answer to its secrets, but his quest for understanding a time and place far beyond the blip in history that humans occupy now forms the basis of his forthcoming solo exhibition at Collingwood’s Backwoods Gallery.

Entitled Cosmic Scale and the Super Future and running from Friday 18 May to Wednesday 13 June, the exhibition comprises five large scale works – the size somewhat appropriate given the epic scope of the subject matter Ghostpatrol is tackling.

Across this new series of paintings on linen, the artist imagines shapes and forms created in the super future, beyond human kind in the great transformations of matter and dark matter in the cosmos.

That’s not to say that the work presented is intense in nature, with Ghostpatrol’s highly stylised worlds inhabited by characters as curious about their place on the canvas as their artist is about his in the cosmos. “My studies of cosmology and the evolving quantum theory set the scene for the worlds I create,” says Ghostpatrol, noting the recent work of scientists Michio Kaku and Brian Cox as inspirational touchstones.

And even if the empty space of the vast unknown is beyond you, Ghostpatrol’s passion makes the unfathomable not just real but a place not to fear.

More preview photos after the jump… Continue reading “Ghostpatrol – “Cosmic Scale and the Super Future” at Backwoods Gallery”

Interview :: Makatron


Mike Makatron (another member of the Everfresh crew) is a master of mixed media. His recent show “Mother of Millions” was amazing and showed off his skills across a variety of media and styles. I also love stumbling upon his giant pieces around inner Melbourne like the giant fish on Smith st Collingwood and the Vet Clinic on Johnston st Fitzroy. Mike’s art, both street and studio, clearly shows his interest in flora and fauna.

As well as making the walls of Melbourne beautiful, Makatron has traveled and painted abroad in places including New York, Berlin, and India and Brazil.

I caught up with Mike and this is what we talked about… The interview has been in the vault for a while though, so a few of the references to dates are a bit, well, outdated. Continue reading “Interview :: Makatron”

Primary Suspects by Reka at Backwoods Gallery

Last night I went to the launch of Reka‘s latest show “Primary Suspects” at Backwoods gallery in Collingwood. As usual Reka did not disappoint.

Reka’s blog gives a good run down of what the show is all about… “When a suit goes to work, they take their briefcase. When I go to work, I take my cans. Primary Suspects is a reflective exploration into the lifestyle of street vandals and the effect that it takes on us, both mentally and physically. From brushes with the law, confrontations with other graffiti writers, climbing onto rooftops and exploring the underground, the streets have become our desks” (Read the rest here).

The show also explores Reka’s fascination with old found spray cans, which he has painted and named after some of Melbourne’s graffiti and street art legends.

Apart from the paintings and old cans, Reka put together a short looping film of himself wearing a suit and getting sprayed by hydrants full of paint in the 4 primary colours. This played on the back wall and got a lot of attention.

Check out the promo clip as well, very funny! (from RJ’s post a few days ago) Continue reading “Primary Suspects by Reka at Backwoods Gallery”

‘Young and Free’ Interviews # 4: Reka

Reka (also an original member of the Everfresh crew) is another of Melbourne’s street art pioneers. Reka has been decorating the streets of Melbourne and surrounds since 2002 and is another of my favourite Melbourne artists.

Reka has traveled and painted across America, Asia and South East Asia, including San Francisco, New York, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Tokyo.

I’ve watched Reka’s style evolve dramatically over the years, and I love what I see. From the older days with black and white paste-ups and pieces featuring Reka’s infamous characters to his newer painting styles. His last show at Backwoods gallery, ‘Down Low Too Slow‘, was a smasher and featured pieces painted in 3D (glasses required to take in the full effect).

I caught up with Reka at Everfresh Studios. This is what we talked about…

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, graffiti and artists?

Reka: I’m privileged and honoured to be part of this amazing show. The line-up of artists is seriously the creme of the crop coming out of Australia right now: a nice balance of traditional graffiti writers, street artists and pop artists. I think Melbourne and Australia has a really healthy scene, but I don’t think it has enough international exposure. I think ‘Young and Free’ will put Australia on the map, if its not there already! I’m really not sure of the impact that this show will make but I know at the very least it is positive and it’s an important start.

LM: Tell me about your background. How did you get into street art?

Reka: I actually came from a graffiti background. Mainly just doing stupid delinquent shit like tagging on pretty much anything I could find. I was ruthless and lacking style, but we all did when we started. Growing up next to a major train-line in Melbourne really opened my eyes to graffiti and different styles. In the early 2000’s I made the shift to street art. Though, at that time the name street art didn’t exist. I just liked doing characters and other abstract things. I just wanted to do my own thing and not follow what others were doing. The process was the same to graffiti – I was still getting up, but wanted to take my name and my work in a different direction. These days I explore graffiti and street art separately but I find both are a very important part of my creative journey.

LM: What does your name mean?

Reka: When I started graff in the late 90’s I came up with ‘REKA’ to match my enthusiasm of literally “wrecking” shit and destroying. I also wanted to find a combination of letters that I liked and that I was comfortable to write. I like how the ‘R’ and the ‘K’ compliment each other. The same goes with the ‘E’ and the ‘A’. Over the years the meaning of my name has dramatically changed, but my core ethics have stayed the same. In the end I always push style over anything else and rely on that that people can identify with rather than to have to put ‘Reka’ next to everything I do.

LM: What do you enjoy most about the whole street art process? The creation, the night missions, etc?

Reka: Street art has always been about the process: the exploration and the action. When I’m out bombing, whether it’s painting my characters, catching tags or sticking up posters, the end result is very secondary to me. What’s most important is the feeling I get. I do it for myself. It’s very selfish! Don’t get me wrong, I love people seeing my work and knowing that I did that illegally, but it’s a different felling I get from that. I also love painting legal walls and try to push my work on a large scale. Creating is very important to me too, but I still find it different to my illegal work. I get bored doing the same shit over and over again so that’s why I find it important to keep my work on the street illegally and also paint large scale commissioned walls. Using different mediums is a very important part of my practice. It keeps it fresh and exciting. I just like exploring in every sense of the word.

LM: Who or what inspires you?

Reka: I find and source inspiration from everything. Often it’s not from other artists but from nature and my surroundings, whether it’s patterns created from rusted metal, animals, rubbish etc. I keep my senses open and try to take it all in. I have to say that my studio, Everfresh, is a big inspiration and constant motivation for me. I find that it’s very important to surround yourself with creative people. Even if there is no actual dialogue or communication, just seeing them paint and create is very inspiring for me.

LM: Which artists are you into at the moment? Local and International?

Reka: I have to say that Roa and Blu are two artists that I have been looking at a bit recently. Not stylistically but my interest into their process and application of their art onto walls. My focus has shifted to painting large-scale murals and to see these two paint monster size works on the side of buildings is very inspiring. Unfortunately it’s very difficult to find walls like these in Australia. No one is really doing this compared to what I’ve seen in Europe and the USA. This is something that I want to fix.

LM: Where do you work from and what is your studio space like?

Reka: I mentioned I’m part of the Everfresh studio. We created this studio nearly eight years ago. Everfresh consists of mainly street artists that have come together with similar interests and their passion to paint but also to create artworks and push their work in the galleries and the fine-art world. The actual studio is a visual mess consisting of pretty much anything we have found and collected over the years. Although we all work separately on our own projects, whether it’s commercial work, walls, artwork etc., our essential core is that we all collaborate and work together too. I think that’s what separates us from other studios. My own studio is a blend of stuff I’ve collected including rusted spray cans, weird toys and of course my art and paints/materials etc.

LM: What is always in your “toolkit”?

Reka: Pens, markers, laptop, brushes, my black-book, NY fat-caps, spray paint, a lighter and acrylic paint.

LM: What has been the highlight (or highlights) of your career to date?

Reka: Honestly this ‘Young and Free’ show is pretty much up there. Exhibiting my work and also painting walls with artists that I have admired and have looked up to is a great privilege and honour to have been involved in. I haven’t been involved in too many international exhibitions yet – it’s something that I am just starting to do now. The NGA (National Gallery of Australia) recently acquisitioned some pieces of mine and had a recent touring exhibition around Australia. It is a great honour to have work in your country’s national gallery collection. I was also involved in a month long residency at the NGV (National Gallery of  Victoria) in Melbourne. I really didn’t think my work would end up in galleries, let alone these kinds of institutions.

LM: Tell me about your last show, ‘Down Low Too Slow’, in March.

Reka: I always love staging exhibitions in my home city Melbourne. I guess that’s where I have generated most of my work both in galleries and on the street. ‘Down Low Too Slow’ was an exploration into the inner child in all of us. The theme was very playful and I had a lot of fun creating this body of work. I actually made some of my works to be viewed in 3d with those old-school blue and red glasses. It was fun to watch the straight-edge art collectors have a giggle viewing my work wearing the 3d glasses.

LM: I’m also interested in the way your style has evolved over the years. How has evolution this come about?

Reka: My style has definitely changed over the years. It has never been a conscious decision or has been intentionally pushed, it’s just something that has come very naturally. I guess I’m looking for something that I haven’t found yet. Actually… to be honest, I don’t want to find what I’m looking for. I think the worst thing to happen to a creative person is to get too comfortable. If you are not evolving then there’s a major problem. I find the journey of being an artist very important. I like looking back on earlier work and cringing, but also love seeing where I have come from and how I have evolved. Back in the day my style was very bold and cartoony. These days my style is a lot looser and dynamic. I am viewing textures and mediums in a new light. I actually want to start creating sculptures and 3D objects. I don’t want to limit myself to just painting pretty pictures.

All photos courtesy of Reka

‘Young and Free’ Interviews # 3: Vexta

Vexta on the streets

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.

Across Neon Nights
Across Neon Nights
Across Neon Nights
Across Neon Nights - Close ups
Across Neon Nights - Close ups
Across Neon Nights - Close ups
Across Neon Nights - Close ups
Across neon Nights - Installation
Across neon Nights - Installation
Vexta on the streets (2008)
Vexta on the streets (2009) (Bogota Colombia)
Vexta on the streets (2010)
Vexta on the streets (2011)
Vexta on the streets (2011)
Vexta on the streets (2011)
Vexta on the streets (2011)
Vexta in the studio (2011)
Vexta in the studio (2011)
Vexta in the studio (2011)

 All photos courtesy of Vexta

Space Invaders at RMIT Gallery, Melbourne

Space Indavers is a collection owned by the National Gallery of Australia featuring street art, stencils, posters, paste ups, zines, stickers and graffiti from the last 10 years from across Australia.

The exhibition is like a time capsule containing some of the most well known pieces from the last decade or so.. So many memories! 🙂 There are far too many artists to mention, so have a look here. The exhibition explores the movement from the street into the gallery as many of these pieces signify the explosion of the scene in Australia and also the start of many of these artists gallery based careers.

While the show is running, RMIT is also hosting a number of interesting discussions including ‘Vandals or Vanguards?‘, discussing the political, social and artistic aspects of street art and zines. Nice work RMIT!

I went down to the opening last week to check it out. Enjoy.

A man dedicated to his stencils. HAHA's legs.
Jumbo and Zap
James Dodd

Photos by Luke McManus