Roa – “Carrion” at Backwoods Gallery, Collingwood

“Perameles Gunnii” EASTERN BARRED BANDICOOT (open doors)
“Perameles Gunnii” EASTERN BARRED BANDICOOT (open doors). Photo courtesy of Alex Mitchell.

After meeting and developing a friendship with Roa in San Francisco earlier this year, I’ve been really looking forward to him arriving in Melbourne! I’ve always known Roa loved his animals, but have never appreciated him as much as I do until now.

Roa was invited by Healsville Sanctuary to visit and meet some of their animals and paint some walls. Healsville is a very special place and there is no doubt that experience shaped the entire trip in Melbourne and also heavily influenced the exhibition. There’s nothing like seeing an artist meet an animal, touch it, play with it, and then go off and paint it.

Bones. Photo courtesy of Alex Mitchell.

Roa’s inspiration for CARRION, his show that just closed at Backwoods Gallery in the Melbourne suburb of Collingwood, was a direct result of the visit to Healseville. The animals, the staff and their passion for the animals and having access to things even most Australians have never even experienced really made a difference.

Wombat skeleton on the wall outside Backwoods
Wombat skeleton on the wall outside Backwoods. Photo courtesy of Alex Mitchell.

So how did this impact the show? In so many ways! Firstly, all of the works were Australian native animals. But the installation, as Roa’s shows often are, was something else! The experience began even before entering the gallery, with the scent of something strange to come. Roa painted the wall in the alley way leading into Backwoods with a giant wombat skeleton. The strange smell kept luring you closer and closer, I won’t say it was a pleasant smell, far from it – soon you’ll understand why.

The entrance - CARRION
The entrance – CARRION. Photo courtesy of Alex Mitchell.

Upon entering Backwoods punters were greeted by a green wall with CARRION painted in red. To the right was a shed built inside the gallery, inside were several videos showing a wallaby autopsy (Roa got to watch and film this at the sanctuary). Rather confronting for those not knowing what to expect.

The shed with the Wallaby autopsy
The shed with the Wallaby autopsy. Photo courtesy of Alex Mitchell.

Fish tanks were assembled throughout the gallery with a set of pipes joining them together for air flow. Inside was the cause of the smell, native Australian animals (a possum, a wallaby, an echidna, a kookaburra and several other birds) being slowly consumed by flesh eating beetles! If you were surprised by the autopsy video this was even more of a shock to some. Bones and various other found items were also scattered throughout the gallery.

Dead Kookaburra
Dead Kookaburra. Photo courtesy of Alex Mitchell.

The paintings, all of native Australian animals, were beautifully painted and came in a range of sizes and complexity (in terms of how many moving parts/doors they had). My favourite pieces were the Bandicoot, the Echidna, the platypus and the Honey Possum. Continue reading “Roa – “Carrion” at Backwoods Gallery, Collingwood”

Meggs: “Truth in Myth II” at Backwoods Gallery in Collingwood

Melbourne’s Meggs (Everfresh) is back home and has a solo show opening this Friday at Backwoods Gallery.

From the press release:

After a successful residency and solo exhibition with Whitewalls Gallery in San Francisco, Meggs returns to his hometown of Melbourne for ‘Truth in Myth II’ at Backwoods Gallery in Collingwood.

Fusing elements of contemporary superheroes to ancient mythological beings, ‘Truth in Myth II’ is a collection of new artworks that expressively reference classic renaissance composition and contemporary pop culture. A continuation of Meggs’ search for balance and the understanding of physical and ideological duality in self.

“We live in the stories we tell ourselves. In a secular, scientific rational culture lacking in any convincing spiritual leadership, superhero stories speak loudly and boldly to our greatest fears, deepest longings and highest aspirations… the best superhero stories deal directly with mythic elements of the human condition… they help us confront and resolve even the deepest existential crisis. We should listen to what they have to tell us.” – Grant Morrison, ‘Supergods’, Spiegal & Grau, New York USA, 2011.

Photos courtesy of Backwoods Gallery

Twoone solo show at Backwoods Gallery

TwoOne, another of Melbourne’s legendary street artists, is having his 6th solo show in September (amongst countless group exhibitions) at Backwoods Gallery in Collingwood, Melbourne. Seven Samurai opens September 14th at 6pm and run through the 30th.

From the press release:

What’s right? What’s wrong? Is the sacrifice of an individual worthwhile if it benefits the many?

Using Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai as a common cultural reference point, Japan-born Melbourne street artist TwoOne explores these questions at the exhibition of the same name at Collingwood’s Backwoods Gallery from Friday 14 to Sunday 30 September.

Seven Samurai is one of the most influential films of all time, with a major impact on American films in particular – from obvious tributes like the 1960s western The Magnificent Seven, which was a remake in everything but name and setting, to George Lucas paying homage to its dialogue and shot composition across his Star Wars saga.

The film continues to inspire nearly 60 years after its release, with TwoOne again drawing on Kurosawa’s 1954 masterpiece for his first solo exhibition of 2012. Each of the seven large works in this new collection is an exploration of the psyche of the film’s seven protagonists, approaching the heroes not as warriors, but rather culturally-significant character archetypes. These archetypes represent enduring perceptions of authoritarian figures in traditional Japanese society, and TwoOne’s analysis looks at them with contemporary insight.

TwoOne aims to bring both western and eastern philosophy together in his character portrayals, which are based on his own psychoanalysis of each of the samurai while at the same time drawing visual reference from the physical energy of Bushido and judo. “Within us all there is a battle,” TwoOne says. “The form of fighting and the ferocity is what defines us.”

With Seven Samurai, he creates a visual representation of that duality; of the forces, whether perceived or real, that pull Kurosawa’s characters (and, indeed, all of humanity) in different directions psychologically and the difficult decisions that must be made.

All photos courtesy of Alex Mitchell at Backwoods Gallery

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”

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”

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”

Reka at Backwoods Gallery

Reka, of Everfresh Studio, has a solo show opening next week at Backwoods Gallery in Melbourne. Primary Suspects opens on Friday and runs through March 18th. Reka says that Primary Suspects is an exploration of what choosing graffiti and street art as a career choice means for those artists.

Here’s a video trailer for the show. I’m not sure it says much about what sort of artwork we can expect at Primary Suspects (although Reka describes the video as a metaphor for his job as a vandal/artist), but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth watching…

Check out more previews from Primary Suspects after the jump… Continue reading “Reka at Backwoods Gallery”

More “art” from Lush

Lush is up to his old tricks at Backwoods Gallery in Melbourne, where he had his first solo show last year. Another shithouse “art” show opened earlier this month with a bang: At the opening, Lush held a “death match” between Jesus and Satan. And yes, it was captured on video. If you’ve been following Lush’s flickr lately, you’ve probably seen the sketches he has been putting up. Those are on display at the show and have turned into a zine that Backwoods is selling online.

Here’s part 1 of the fight videos, a bit of an introduction to the fight:

And here’s the fight itself (and yes, it’s violent, so be warned):

Here are a few shots from the show. You can find more on Backwoods Gallery’s facebook or at Arty Graffarti:

Photos courtesy of Backwoods Gallery