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Recap: Rose Beton 2016

Rose Beton - 01

Toulouse Urban Culture Festival, Rose Beton, is rounding up its 2nd edition these days with Epoxy Exhibition @ Musée des Abattoirs closing its door on 28th of August.  This year the festival has decided to focus on graffiti as an artistic movement – from its beginnings in NYC back in the 70s to a global phenomenon that it is today.

In this manner, the festival included works by around 20 international artists with same graffiti origins but extremely different in their expression. From Futura’s signature abstraction to Boris Tellegen’s sharp futurism, Epoxy exhibition showed the variety of styles and visual languages that can evolve from classic graffiti. Along with works by these contemporary artists, Château d’Eau hosted a photography retrospective of Martha Cooper and Henry Chalfant, presenting a flashback on how and where everything began.

Along with these indoors events, Open Summer Festival organized by 50cinq site invited muralists from around the world to leave their mark on the streets of the city. Supported by the Toulouse Town Hall, the city confirmed its status as an urban culture lab by adding new public works from Ben Eine, Reso, Honet, Aryz, Hendrik Beikirch and finally, Toulouse-born Miss Van.


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Half a Dozen Questions with Graphic Surgery

graphic_surgery_13_webGraphic Surgery has been honing their brand of minimalism for quite some time now.  Their bold, simple, and striking marks in abandoned spaces and meticulously crafted work for galleries are increasingly drawing appreciation from patrons and peers.

Recently I sent over a few questions, half dozen to be exact.  GS is a duo of Dutchies, Erris Huigens, and Gysbert Zijlstra.   I sent each the questions independently, and asked them to answer them ‘blindly’ ..a kind of  The Dating Game ,  questionaire, just to see how congruent is the party line.  Turns out…pretty much on target.



Hyland Mather:  You work as a team. How often do you want to strangle each other?

Gysbert Zijlstra:  Well to strangle is a strong use of terms, but as you can imagine we have our different opinions and approaches. Every now and then we disagree, but that is keeping things fresh and on point.

Erris Huigens: 50% wanting to strangle, 50% wanting to hug :)


HM: Give us your superhero origin story, where did Graphic Surgery come from? Something a bit more of a story than we met in art school…I know that, but there must have been some moment of epiphany, right?

GZ:  Well the true collaboration started screen printing together during art school, but we really had a lot of fun going out at night and wheatpasting posters on the streets. Nothing serious or aesthetic just fun stuff. The whole internet  sticker and poster community just kicked off, and it felt great to be part of the movement early on.

EH: Living in Leeuwarden, meeting each other while going to similar places to drink, and dance to electronic music. Yes, worldwide there seemed to be an underground buzz going on about being creative outdoor and showing your, early, work outside for everyone to see. It made for a fun combination of drinking, printing, pasting and non-commissioned art adventures…


HM: As if it could get anymore boring than this, but describe what you’re trying to accomplish in your street / non gallery…out in the wild work?

GZ: Nowadays we like to search for remote abandoned places, which are hard to find unfortunately in The Netherlands, and find walls to experiment with in the surrounding environment as a testing playground for ideas. Almost like a graffiti writer would execute a sketch on a wall. It almost never really repeats itself, because it is partly very intuitive and partly quite strict with principals and rules.

EH: A mix of adventure and searching for a very interesting combination between fading architecture and painted architectural and industrial elements. I see most of these paintings as ‘samples’ from our slightly more complex studio/ gallery work. Abandoned places and spaces often don’t ask for more than minimal shapes creating a dialogue with it’s surroundings.

This is our way of combining the fresh, spontaneous aspect of graffiti painting with site specific minimal art. The energy that went in to these pieces adds something mysterious…


HM: How does the out in the wild work differ for you from gallery pieces?

GZ: The work differs in the amount of time spent on it, working outside the gallery limits that and increases the fun of execution actually. You have to play effectively so to speak. And the gallery work is a whole different game, there is a lot factors to be reckoned with. The studio work resembles the things that currently drive and inspire you as an artist, you have certain periods, and all the work that is created in this period sort of relates to each other, whether public art, wall paintings or small studio works. All part of the momentum you’re in as an artist duo. For instance the work in the current show is already a little old for us, we’ve learned so much by doing since, that they become sort of early versions of work we continually keep on digging deeper into.

EH: It is two different aspects of our entire body of work. Both important for us.


HM: More and more I’m fascinated with the tools that are available to artists that work outside of the traditional ‘paint and canvas’ pure pantheon…you know, laser cutting machines, 3d printing, CNC routers…I’ve also seen you guys start to use ever and ever more machine precision in your work.  What tools are you working with?  What role does automation play in the work?

GZ: We have always been working with traditional crafts and graphic arts as well as using digital media and the computer and software for our art.

I (Gysbert) am very interested in the machine like precision of execution by lasercutters, i know Erris also still loves to paint expressively. But i am not that interested in painting on canvas anymore, so from collages to assemblages and sculptures is a whole new dimension literally, a lot of new things to learn and master. You have to become almost as skillful as a carpenter suddenly. So now we also sometimes collaborate with carpenters and steelworkers to develop further.

I never really like to pre-design the work too much, so i prefer to control the lasercutter myself, and manually instruct it the file that was just created prior. Then when all layers are cut we like to puzzle around with the different layers and change the order and determine every piece till satisfaction. Automation is partly there because of the parameters we set up before making work. Certain rules and principles that define the work.


EH: I am also very much interested in that precision and technique. Gysbert controls the laser cutter and I make sure the pieces are assembled, painted and glued together. But, yes, I am also still interested in gestural and expressive paintings. Simply because it is the most direct way of visual expression. It is very honest. In some works we try and incorporate both. That is where the future lies for me. Machine like precision, combined with gesture, a human feel. There are new things to learn and master, but I also very much believe in making use of other people skills to execute future works. From building facades to large scale sculptures.

Also, in the near future I would love to create very direct ‘automated’ painted or collaged works in which me and Gysbert bounce off each other (go “back 2 back”).

We should go deeper into this way of working. Instead of Gysbert doing laser cutting and me assembling and finishing the works.


HM: Let’s say you could do a ‘dream’ project. A project where budget wasn’t an issue and you had say 6 months to do it. What would it be?


GZ: A very large steel ‘intrusive structure’ sculpture out in the public space on a square or in a park, or in the middle of nowhere on rural iceland or something. Or one that literally is on the moon and lighting up with solarcells at night.

Or a mosaic design for a huge square to view from google earth. A tunnel with a concrete basrelief all over, architectural stuff mainly.

Our work is heavily inspired by architecture and construction, so for us it is clear that our work becomes more and more constructed itself.

EH: Let’s look back in about 20 to 40 years. I know this dream project will be realized. Not going to tell you now what this dream project is. One thing I can say is that I am fascinated in creating the ultimate minimal work that sums up all of our work up to that point. I truly believe in less is more by the way.


Alright guys, that’s it.  Thank you both so much for your time.  


French – ‘Brainfade’


Richard ‘French’ Sayer is an artist and illustrator originally from the UK who now resides and works in Melbourne, Australia. French’s iconic style has allowed him to create artwork across a wide range of fields from illustration and graphics for the music industry to advertising and fashion for the skateboard industry. In his new exhibition ‘Brainfade’, French further explores the his classic dark illustration style with an injection of vivid fluorescent colour, propelling his artworks into a retro future fantasy.

‘Brainfade’ is influenced by in part by the black light metal posters of the 70s fused with French’s strong connection to skate graphic language, creating a new world where the medieval meets science fiction. French exhibits continuously around the world in both group and solo exhibitions.

‘Brainfade’ opens at Backwoods Gallery this Friday Aug 26th from 6-10pm.


Sam Yong – ‘K E E P S A K E S’


Sam Yong is an artist and illustrator from Melbourne. He works across different traditional mediums. As a self-confessed introvert, Sam has a love of nature and solo adventure. He is often found booking a last minute flight to a far away land. This love of solitude, the unknown and the natural world manifests itself through his artwork. Sam’s work has been exhibited in Paris, the United States, New Zealand and Melbourne, along with a multitude of private commissions across the globe.


Premiering his highly anticipated second exhibition, ‘K E E P S A K E S’ Yong’s new work explores the complexity of the human condition, with focus on how seemingly temporal emotions can manifest themselves as everlasting memories. The collection uses allegorical subject matter to take the audience on an immediate journey of emotion, evoking and creating memories on sight. The contrast between the emotional human psyche being portrayed by the cruel unforgiving reality of the natural world is a beautiful yet tragic and intriguing relationship.

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Rustam Qbic “After School” Print Release


Created after his recent mural in Bodo, Norway, Rustam Qbic recently announced a new print release titled “After School”. Depicting a schoolboy spray painting northern lights on the skies above his hometown, the print will be released in 2 very limited editions.

The main screenprint image was produced used 8 hand pulled colours, with additional, hand painted image of aurora borealis. The main edition of 50 copies features the green/yellow handpainted parts, similar to the ones on the mural, while variant edition of only 15 copies features warmer, orange/purple/yellow northern lights. Each print measures 50 x 70 cm and it comes signed and numbered by the Russian artist. The release was scheduled for Tuesday, August 23rd at 6pm London time (1pm New-York), and according to artist’s social media he’s done couple of unique versions, so keep an eye out for those too.


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Spencer Keeton Cunningham – ACCESSION – Interview

Spencer Keeton Cunningham has finally launched a new solo exhibition after 2 years on the road. An artist who set forth over 2 years ago on a self proclaimed painting journey, Cunningham has most recently been painting large walls throughout the United States, Australia and New Zealand. He has continued to remain on the road with no home base, venturing solo from one location to the next, from the border of Southern Mexico to the iced over roads of Alaska over the past 800 days. He has just recently launched his most recent solo exhibit from the road, titled “Accession” at One Grand Gallery in Portland, Oregon. 


The exhibit features colourfully painted walls bearing a skeleton of an American Indian figure dropping a firearm, a distressed Native American pattern, and a 4-eyed wolf apparently sliced into various pieces showing elements of its skeletal structure.  In Cunningham’s words, this show marks the first instalment of this “style” of show he has ever done in the United States.

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Johnny Cupcakes baking in Melbourne! ONE NIGHT ONLY!


Why have thousands of customers from around the world chosen to get the Johnny Cupcakes’ logos tattooed on themselves? And how does Johnny get hundreds of people to camp outside his fake bakeries?

Over the past decade Johnny Cupcakes, founded by speaker Johnny Earle (who started 16 businesses before he was 16 years old), has grown from a “joke” to a multi-million dollar, highly exclusive t-shirt brand driven by a community of world-wide collectors. Johnny is visiting Melbourne to tell the story of how he took his t-shirt brand from his rusty car at age 19, with learning difficulties and little resources, to some of the world’s most sought after retail locations.

Johnny frequently speaks at businesses and universities worldwide. He has been named Americas #1 Young Entrepreneur by BusinessWeek, one of the top innovative people in Massachusetts by The Boston Globe, he has been recognised four years in a row for making it into the INC 500/5000 fastest growing independent companies in America, and has been featured on MTV, NPR, FORBES, WIRED, and as a case study in several branding and business books. Johnny’s known for helping other people create blueprints for building brand loyalty, creating memorable experiences, and inspiring innovation.

Johnny hits Melbourne on 30 August 2016 for ONE NIGHT ONLY. Tickets are selling like freshly baked cupcakes so best get in here, before it’s all sold out!


Kai & Sunny – My Eye On You – Colette, Paris


Colette is pleased to present My Eye On You, a series of new works by the UK based artist duo Kai & Sunny. It will be their 1st solo exhibition at the gallery after solo shows in London,New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. In conjunction with the exhibition, the artists will release a new print edition, available for purchase at the opening reception.  

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Senekt – ‘Spectrum’


Backwoods Gallery warmly welcomes SENEKT for his debut solo exhibition, titled SPECTRUM.

Following up his explosive arrival on Melbourne’s street art scene SENEKT is presenting a collection of vivid paintings and sculptures that explore the relationship between emotion and color.

Opening Friday 12th of August at 6pm.


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DotDotDot Paints “Analogram” in Kristiansand, Norway


Couple of weeks ago DotDotDot was in Kristiansand, Norway, painting new large mural for KRS Gadekunstlaug. The fresh piece titled “Analogram” is a great example of using unusual structure to create almost sculptural piece of public art.

Working on a large curved wall, the Norwegian artist saw an opportunity to use it’s peculiar shape and form to accent the image, so he painted this effective piece depicting an analog film frame with hand gesture for excellence. The image is artist’s commentary on the ways that social media keeps putting the pressure on creative work. Though powerful and effective tool in general, DotDotDot believes it shifted the focus from quality to quantity, with speed of producing becoming an important parameter. Mixing the vintage technology of analog film with universal sign of approval or excellence (instead of popular “like” symbol), “Analogram” is sort of a tribute to the “good ol days”, which is further underlined by golden background.


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