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

Hush – Sirens at Metro Gallery Armadale

I finally got down to see Hush‘s show Sirens at Metro Gallery in Armadale yesterday. I couldn’t make it to the opening, so I’m glad I didn’t miss this show.

I’ve been a fan of Hush for a while now and seeing his work up close makes me love it even more. His pieces combine Japanese Geisha and Russian Babushka dolls, tags and torn raw surfaces and dripping paint to create a mesmerising effect. I stood and looked at the main wall piece for ages admiring the detail. Clearly the Melbourne art community also love his work, the entire show sold out in days.

From the Metro Gallery website:

Metro Gallery is proud to present ‘Sirens’, the first solo exhibition in Australia by UK artist Hush. Described as a ‘sensory assault’, Hush’s work is a visual treat, a layering of colours and a fusion of anime, pop-infused imagery, graffiti and graphic design.

Fascinated by Asian graphic novels and inspired by the likes of Mimmo Rotella, Roy Lichtenstein and Sir Peter Blake, Hush has a unique style that has led to worldwide acclamation. He was recently recognised in London Independent’s list of ‘Top 20 Up and Coming Artists’.

‘Sirens’ continues the artist’s style, effortlessly fusing traditional Eastern art with Western traditions of action painting and graffiti. Inspired by the portrayal of the female form in art, the artist depicts Eastern-like women set within backgrounds filled with layers of rich colour. Patterns, ranging from geometric repetition to florals reminiscent of delicately decorated vases, are not solely confined to the background but often take on a new dimension, forming graceful kimonos, hairstyles or headpieces. Tagging and graffiti transition from street art to the studio, to form part of these patterns.

Hush has continued to evolve his style with this new offering, creating deeper, richer pieces than anything he has produced before. “I’m stripping pieces down, over complicating others to show a complex body of work to educate the viewer and bring them deeper into the process of making the work.”

Photos by Lukey

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”

‘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