Street art and campaigning are age-old buddies; having gone hand in hand since their gestation and covering a range of topics, from political propaganda to raising awareness against media takeover. However one artist is bringing things a great deal closer to home alongside a slightly offbeat subject. For the past year London-based ATM has been re-inhabiting rundown areas of the capital with the ghosts of times gone by in the form of its forgotten bird species. Having recently featured in some of the big dogs of mainstream media, we put Jodie on the case to see what all the flapping was about. Excuse the pun.
Mere hours after hopping off a London-bound flight from Montreal, Puerto Rican animal-splicing artist Alexis Diaz got talking to VNA’s Jodie about how things are looking for his rapidly expanding career. Having made a splash in London’s Shoreditch area last year with his iconic Octophant, Alexis let us in on his upcoming plans for his current return visit and gave us an update on how things are shaping up in the street art scene of his home country.
“Inner Myths”, a collection of new paintings and sculptural works by Shida is a dynamic record of Shida’s development as an artist who envisions infinite worlds. Influenced by the work of Frank Frazetta, Paul Gauguin, Mikhail Vrubel and Nikolai Kalmakov, for “Inner Myths”, as Australia’s most prolific young street artist, Shida reinvokes two centuries of art history in his characteristic style. Shida is considered an asset to Australian contemporary art, who is constantly challenging himself against the sources of his inspiration.
Shida took some time out to talk about his upcoming show….
Melbourne based artist 23rd Key has just submitted two mind-blowing stencils into Australia’s ‘Archibald Prize‘. She took time to chat with Damo about how this all came about.
DW: Thanks for taking the time to chat. Can you tell us a bit about yourself, what led you to becoming a stencil artist?
23rd Key: No worries. I actually kind of fell into it- I made my first stencil when I was in high school. Being from Melbourne, stencil art was still emerging at the time, my brother knew some of the basics and taught them to me. I happened to really take to the medium though, I found the process of cutting/making stencils really cathartic and have been doing it ever since- I enjoy doing it now more than I ever have. I got to a stage where I’d made so many artworks that I decided I needed to do something with them – being an artist was never something I thought I’d be, ‘when I grew up’.
DW: Often there can be a story behind a name. Is that the case with you?
23rd Key: I struggle a lot when it comes to names, even when I used to play roller derby, I found coming up with a name harder than learning how to skate. The first show I was ever in I went under the pseudonym ‘Keys’, it was basically just because it sounds like my real last name and was my nickname for a long time. Twenty-three has been my favourite number since I can remember and is actually the date of my birth, so I kind of just put the two together. It’s a pretty poor story I guess, hopefully the work I make makes up for it.
Melbourne based Fred Fowler completed his Master of Contemporary Art in 2012, a decade after establishing himself as one of Melbourne’s pioneer street artists. Complimenting his origins in graffiti, Fowler applies a sophisticated, abstract style and a process driven approach. Visual poetics and subtle symbolism are expertly blended across his paintings, etchings, sculptures and installations. ‘In Decorating The Apocalypse’, Fowler’s debut exhibition at Backwoods Gallery, commercial iconography clashed with graffiti tribalism. For his upcoming show, ‘New Landscapes’ opening on June 20, Fred has expressed the effects of modernity and colonization across the Australian landscape. Fred kindly took some time to talk with VNAussie Damo about ‘New Landscapes’.
James Reka is a young contemporary Australian artist based in Berlin, Germany. His origins lie in the alleyways and train lines of Melbourne’s inner-suburbs where he spent over a decade refining his now-emblematic aesthetic. His character work has come to represent the beginnings of a new style of street art: clean, unique and not necessarily on the street (much to his mother’s joy). With an amazing show opening tomorrow night (6 June) at Backwoods Gallery, Reka took time to talk to Damo.
We got a little love from our favourite melty Metallica fan, Buff Monster on his round up over at restaurant review site, The Infatuation.
Britain’s beloved stencil duo Snik struck Brick Lane last month with a triptych of stencils from Marc Laroche’s haunting photo-series, “hair”. The copper clad portraits can be caught on Hanbury Street in the beating heart of the London Shoreditch area.
So VNA’s Jodie got chatting with Nik, one half of the prolific double act, during a rare quiet moment nestled in a packed schedule of exhibitions, printmaking and painting, to try to find out a bit about what the past, present and future holds for the hardworking pair.
Based in Sydney Beastman is influenced by the beauty and symbolism behind nature’s repetitive patterns and organic lines. One of the most distinctive and prolific emerging artists in Australia, one third of creative group The Hours and co-founder of East Editions, Beastman has exhibited extensively throughout Australia, as well as in the UK, USA, Germany, Hong Kong and New Zealand.
Beastman recently took time to speak to VNAussie, Damo about his upcoming show at Backwoods Gallery as well as all things Beastman…
Damo: Tell us a bit about your early years and how you got into art:
Beastman: I grew up in the Sydney suburbs, a kid obsessed with and completely immersed in skateboarding. I always had an interest in making art from a young age, was always drawing on everything and messing around with things. Through skating I got into shooting photos and making videos, just messing around whilst out on the streets skating with my friends. Then I began to develop a real interest in the art and design that was a big part of skateboarding culture, as well as all the graffiti I would see on the street. I was really into seeing how the different brands presented themselves in magazines, their deck graphics, logo designs and the way the brands collaborated with artists and photographers etc. I ended up studying graphic design after high school in the late 90s and then worked as a designer for years whilst always messing around with drawing, skate photography and painting. Then it wasn’t until around 2005 that I felt I was creating some unique artworks and actually wanted to show people what I was doing, so I began to get involved more in the local art scene and started showing work in group exhibitions etc. I had my first solo exhibition in Sydney in 2008 and then its all just kept rolling forward from there really.
Tom Civil’s latest show, Stick Folk opens this Friday, 2nd May from 6pm at Backwoods Gallery, featuring a large body of original work, over 20 paintings, 9 etchings and unveiling a large steel sculpture.