Rosario Martínez Llaguno and Roberto Vega Jiménez make up the Mexican activist art duo, Lapiztola. Recently visiting London, they worked on an exhibition called ‘Democracia real ya!’, meaning ‘real democracy now!’ The exhibition was hosted by Global Justice Now (formerly the World Development Movement) and was held at Rich Mix in Shoreditch. We caught up with the guys at Lapiztola to talk about the project.
Unwell Bunny has a rather hectic show coming up in Paris. Watch this space for an interview as well as a video drop for the upcoming show. It’s going to be huge!
Known and respected throughout the graffiti scene for his past and present creative conquests, Australian artist JOHN KAYE has no problems getting up and going all out. More recently recognized for his ink illustrations and large-scale mural work, his art has been appearing in multiple galleries and showcases around the world.
We catch up with John to chat about his ideas, artistic integrity and creative influence.
VNA: Talk us through some projects you’re working on at the moment.
JOHN KAYE: My main priority at the moment has just been to draw or paint something everyday. It’s been going well so far. Other than that I’ve been lucky enough to team up with a few different people to work on some collaboration stuff that has been really fun and a massive learning curve. I’ve also been working on developing some limited run clothing that hopefully I can show everyone soon and I’ve been trying to save some money for a few trips I want to go on this year.
VNA: A lot of your illustrations and print series work features poetic lines with underlining themes surrounding crime, punishment and rail transport.
‘All You See Is Crime In The City’, ‘Find The Right Ways To Do The Wrong Things’, ‘From The Cradle to the Grave’, ‘Graffiti Gets You Nowhere’, ‘Better Seen Than Heard’
Obviously these topics are a source of experience and inspiration to you, can you tell us a bit about why?
JOHN KAYE: Traveling and graffiti have both been huge parts of my life. When I was a kid, I was always fascinated by the different graffiti everywhere I went. Generally everything I do is a form of personal expression. The work you are referring to all just relates to things that have happened around me at a certain point in time. As my experiences change, so do the things I create. If people relate to my work, or interpret it in a certain way, I think that’s a good thing. Although, it’s never really the initial intent.
VNA: Do you think your past experiences as an artist have affected your current style?
JOHN KAYE: Definitely. My experiences are the most valuable thing I have. It doesn’t matter if they are mistakes I have made, or things I have enjoyed. They will always affect what I do in some way.
VNA: Why do you think graffiti and street influenced artists are now becoming so prevalent in the mainstream art scene?
JOHN KAYE: The Internet has probably played a massive part in that happening. Everybody today has access to so much more information. Obviously people are constantly pushing boundaries and everything is always developing. So I guess as things evolve and change, people begin to pay more attention and the audience naturally grows.
VNA: It seems ironic that artists such as yourself who’ve come from such colourfully illicit artistic backgrounds are now being commissioned by the same individuals and associations who once strongly opposed the art form. What’s your opinion on this?
JOHN KAYE: Personally I’m very particular about who I choose to work with. I feel like the individuals and associations who once strongly opposed the art form haven’t really been converted into enthusiasts of any sort. All that’s happening is that they are becoming more aware of the possibility to use artwork to there own advantage.
In my experience when I’ve had offers to work with certain people, it’s easy to tell what their motivations are. Sometimes they are very genuine and other times it’s because they are looking to use controlled artwork as a solution to a problem, or something that they can benefit from. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with that. I think it’s great that people are open minded enough to take these things into consideration. I just feel that it’s extremely important as an artist to understand why you are doing something in the first place, and then to continuously keep that in mind as you carry on with whatever you decide to do.
VNA: Tell us about home.
JOHN KAYE: Haha, okay. Home at the moment is a confusing subject. I feel like Melbourne is the closest thing to being home. When I was really young I moved around all the time between a bunch of different towns and cities. Nothing has really changed. I still have trouble spending very long in one place. Recently though, I’ve been spending the majority of my time on the Gold Coast. I have some very patient friends that have tolerated me leaving my belongings all over the place and have been kind enough to let me stay with them from time to time, which is lucky.
VNA: You’re heading to Melbourne next week, yeah? What’s on the cards?
JOHN KAYE: A friend of mine is opening a burrito bar with a skate bowl in Melbourne next month and I’ve been working on some illustrations for him, so it seemed like a good enough excuse. I try to spend as much of my spare time down there as I can. I really enjoy painting in Melbourne. The weather is nice and the days are long.
VNA: If you could work with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
JOH KAYE: If I can pick someone who’s deceased, I’d probably say Nicola Tesla. He had such crazy ideas and visions to create things that would have massive impacts and he continued to work towards them no matter how insane he appeared. If that’s not allowed, then I would probably have to go with Jay Z. Everything he does, he does well.
www.johnkayeart.com / @johnkayeart
A couple of weeks ago, I got the opportunity to drop in to the studio of Mr Remi Rough.
Remi (featured in VNA issue 18) has been involved in the London graffiti scene since the 1980’s and now as well as still being active in the mural scene he has carved a very successful art career with exhibitions in galleries in Paris, Perth, Tokyo, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Hong Kong and more.
Nestled deep in South London’s Peckham/East Dulwich area, the studio was bustling with new work and a couple of older gems that where waiting to be taken to his new ‘Previously’ retrospective show at Morgan Furniture. This show is a little different as Remi explained as its a selection of older pieces ranging from 2009 – 2012 with some totally unseen work from that era.
The exhibition runs from the 11th -27th March Mon-Fri, 9.30-5.30
1 Dallington Street, Clerkenwell,
London EC1V 0BH UK
Have a look at some of our exclusive snaps from the studio visit…
CRISP is an Australian Street artist based in Bogota, Colombia. He was born to artistic parents, and grew up in rural Australia. From a very young age he drew, painted, sculpted, pottered, carved, photographed and created anything he could as a form of personal expression. He speaks with Damo…
Damo: Talk us through your style?
Crisp: I tend to use a diverse range of techniques and materials which effect my style on the street. I’m currently using the stencil style for painting walls plus some freestyle components to link them. I also use many tribal designs inspired from a variety of indigenous cultures around the world to paint my 3D moulded masks. Some of my murals and stencils are quiet political and send messages but then others are purely aesthetic and just for visual pleasure.
Sydney based artist Rilla recently took 5 with Damo prior to his trip to Canberra to tear up ArtNotApart
Damo: Talk us through your style.
Rilla: I’ve been recognised by my style for a while now, confusingly enough I can’t recognise a style to my own work. My ideas and media is always changing and evolving with each artwork. If I had to say something particularly focusing on my street art work, I would say it always has to be big, bold and emotional something that makes you stop and think what if… I leave a lot of room for the observers own perception on what the big picture is with my pieces, all my art work has meaning and some times far from what they think.
Damo: And if you had to condense that to one gut-reaction word?
Rilla: If I was to give a one worded gut reaction to my work I’d hope it would be “whooaaah” or “hahaha”. I try to keep my work light hearted and fun even if the images are pretty dark the meanings are usually sarcastic or humorous.
VNA Magazine is proud to present the release of the Issue 29 Limited Edition Box Set, featuring artwork from world-renowned artist Cleon Peterson.
We would be delighted if you could join us to celebrate this release at Subliminal Projects on Saturday 14th February, 6-9pm (It’s Valentines Day, so feel free to bring us flowers and chocolate).
We will be giving away free copies of the regular issue of VNA 29 as our Valentines gift to the first 100 people to arrive and sharing delicious Sixpoint Brewery beers between 6-9pm.
Available to buy from the LA Launch, the Box Set features a custom screen-printed box, die-cut sticker set, postcards and hand screen-printed copy of VNA 29, printed at White Duck Screen Print in the UK.
Each set is individually numbered from an edition of /150 and signed by Peterson, they are available exclusively from the live launches in London and LA, with a small number held back for international release online.
For more information, please email email@example.com
Regular copies of the magazine are also available to buy online now:
For more information, follow us on social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more, all @vnamagazine
Curated by Ben Frost and Aaron Craig, SHOWCASE brings together a selection of NEW TALENT as well as some of the best Australian and international artists that have worked with Stupid Krap over the last 12 months.
Co-curator Ben Frost words Damo up on the show.
Damo: Tell us about the upcoming Stupid Krap Showcase?
BF: It’s an intimate snapshot of Stupid Krap’s footprint within the local and international art world – celebrating the amazing talent that we have had the pleasure to work with over the last few years, and some of the new artists we’re excited to showcase.
Blankspace Gallery will be filled from floor to ceiling with international artists like Sharktoof, Greg Gossel, Mysterious Al and Denial, as well as Australian artists who have been making it big overseas like Vexta, Twoone, Gemma O’Brien and We Buy Your Kids. Some of the new names that we’re excited to work with for the first time, such as Nathaniel Kiwi, John Avanti, Loretta Lizzio, Danilo Brandao and William Ngheim – will be well worth coming to check out.
VNA 29 – Same, same, but different…
Buy your copy here: www.verynearlyalmost.com/shop/vna-issue-29
As the art world continues to grow and develop, we’re trying to age gracefully too, with a move towards the broader culture that surrounds street art and graffiti.
This issue we go all out with a cover featuring the work of LA-based Cleon Peterson, whose violently bacchanalian work echoes the brutality he sees in society at large.
Ron English is one of the most technically adept and prolific artists alive. Taking out billboards all over the globe with his own hard-hitting political messages, he has risen to the top in popular art culture. English’s own brand of ‘Popaganda’ takes many images and ideas from modern culture and injects them with his own dry, cutting humour. Most notably, he designed the character for American junk-food exposé, Super Size Me, and produced a mash-up portrait of Presidents Obama and Lincoln for the 2008 electoral campaign.
VNA is hosting a Q&A session with Ron this evening at Boxpark, from 6-7pm, if you have anything you want us to ask, tweet it to @boxpark and @vnamagazine. In the meantime, we asked the big man a few questions of our own below: