Quel Beast x Reka x Skullphone (kinda) x Infinity x Royce Bannon x El Celso

Quel Beast and Reka. Photo by Quel Beast

Keith Schweitzer and Joyce Manalo organized getting these shipping containers painted for MaNY and Fourth Arts Block. Forth Arts Block got permission for the site, the like-up was solidified over a weekend and painting began almost immediately. It’s amazing how easily things come together sometimes. They brought in Infinity, Royce Bannon, El Celso and Quel Beast from New York, plus Reka from Australia while he was in New York for a bit. Since Skullphone already had a poster on the container, Infinity kept it and blended it into his own piece a bit (with Skullphone’s okay). Here’s a video of the process (Quel Beast’s piece was later changed after this video was filmed):

REKA x Quel Beast x Infinity – NYC from MaNY Project on Vimeo.

And here’s photos of all the finished work:

Skullphone and Infinity. Photo by Mike Pearce
Reka. Photo by Mike Pearce
Skullphone. Photo by Mike Pearce
Infinity. Photo by Mike Pearce
Quel Beast. Photo by Mike Pearce
Royce Bannon and Celso. Photo by Mike Pearce

Photos by Quel Beast and Mike Pearce

‘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

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

Young & Free: Australian street artists in SF

One thing that has come up a number of times on Vandalog and in my personal conversations is the seeming isolation of Australia’s street art scene. Although Melbourne in particular as a street art community to rival many major American cities, it seems that most fans of street art are unfamiliar with Australian-based artists besides Anthony Lister and perhaps Meggs. Now, two of Australia’s most committed street art collectors have teamed up with 941 Geary in San Fransisco to put on the biggest show of Australian street artists the US has ever seen, Young & Free. The show has been curated by Sandra Powell and Andrew King, the couple with what is probably both the best collection of work by Australian street artists, and the best collection of work by street artists in Australia.

13 artists are involved in Young & Free: Anthony Lister, Kid Zoom, Dabs & Myla, Dmote, New2, Ben Frost, Meggs, Ha-Ha, Reka, Rone, Sofles and Vexta. That’s a pretty solid line up, representing most of the best Australian-born street artists (but, as far as I know, Ben Frost is not a street artist). If you haven’t heard of all of those names, you can go to the Young & Free website to get a taste for each artist. Basically, without making the trip to Australia yourself, this show will be the best way to see what’s going on with their street art scene. Hopefully, it will also be a massive step towards putting Australian street art on equal footing internationally with American and European street art.

But of course, a gallery may be a place to experience art, but it’s not the place to experience street art. Street art is on the street. Luckily, all 13 of the artists in Young & Free will be in San Fransisco at the start of September, so here’s to hoping that some walls get painted.

Young & Free is still a few weeks away from opening, with a run from September 10th through October 22nd, but we’ve got a quick preview…

Anthony Lister

Photos courtesy of Young & Free

Twoone, Reka & Rone – Live Painting at Metro Gallery in Armadale (Melbourne)

Checked this out on Saturday. A great event run by Metro Gallery. Have a look at their website, a really good gallery with some amazing pieces by some renowned artists (Banksy, Blek Le Rat, HAHA, Damien Hirst, Anthony Lister and Michael Peck to name a few)..

Got there a little late, so missed a lot of Twoone and Reka (sorry guys) but saw Rone from start to end.



Shots of all finished pieces available on Metro’s facebook page.

Photos by Lukey

A very special alley in Melbourne, Australia

A note from RJ: This is Luke’s first guest post on Vandalog. He will be helping us cover street art and graffiti in Melbourne, Australia.

This is an amazing little alleyway in Melbourne. Check out some of the local and international talent. (There’s so much goodness down there so apologies to anyone that I’ve missed.. Next time..)

Whilst it’s not as famous as some other Melbourne streets, it’s by far my favourite. No surprise why this is, this alley is the entrance to the famous ‘Blender Studios‘ http://www.theblenderstudios.com/ (Have a read on their site, Blender is an instrumental part of the history of Melbourne’s vibrant street art scene).

Ok, Here we go:

Reka (Everfresh)
Sync, Phibs (Everfresh), HAHA & more

Continue reading “A very special alley in Melbourne, Australia”

The Everfresh book

Everfresh (the Melbourne graffiti/street art crew with Sync, Phibs, Reka, Rone, Wonderlust, Prizm, Meggs, Makatron and The Tooth) have put together a book. EVERFRESH: BLACKBOOK is meant to give readers a look inside the Everfresh studio.

To be honest, I don’t know much about that artists in Everfresh. I’ve seen work from Meggs from time to time, but that’s about it (except of course, the work I’ve now seen while researching this post). But that’s not because they aren’t a talented group of artists. It’s because, even with the internet, Australian street art still feels, at least to me, cut off from the rest of the world. Anthony Lister found success when he moved to New York. Charlie Isoe had to move to Berlin. It’s weird. You would think that Flickr and ekosystem and everything else would change things, but the internet hasn’t done as much as you would expect for street art in Australia. That said, the people I know who know Australian street art say that the artists in Everfresh are a big part of what makes Melbourne one of the world capitals of street art. The chance to discover of a whole new group of talented artists is a big part of why I’m excited about this book.

EVERFRESH: BLACKBOOK isn’t going to be in stores until September, but you can pre-order the special edition hardcover book starting today. The hardcover edition is limited to 500 copies and available for $80.00 on Everfresh’s website. That edition also comes with a hand-finished cover, a print and a photographic print.