Street artist Kaff-eine and her cheeseagle team created an onsite art installation as much-needed shelter with two notorious dumpsite slum communities in Manila, Philippines. The global premiere of their ‘Happyland’ documentary and exhibition will be held at the Human Rights Arts and Film Festival in Melbourne, May 2017 Kaff-eine and her international team reunited with two notorious and impoverished dumpsite communities of Baseco and Happyland, Manila, creating and installing a collection of ‘art tarpaulins’ that featured Kaff-eine’s portraits of 10 community personalities. The resulting open-air exhibition celebrated the communities, while also providing them with much-needed resources for shelter.
Prize-winning Australian stencil artist Luke Cornish, aka E.L.K recently showed his exhibition of Syrian-inspired artworks, ‘Road to Damascus’ at Sydney art gallery Nanda/Hobbs Contemporary. For over a decade, Cornish has created artwork in the public eye that forces the viewer to reflect on their thoughts and actions and the impact their lives have on others.
Turning over the soil on perceptions of race, religion, conflict and the human condition, Cornish echoes the sentiments of American singer Bruce Springsteen, considering it his job as an artist to ‘observe and report’.
Cornish extends his social commentary across borders and boundaries, with his work often taking him to the worlds most troubled and troubling places. In June 2016, Cornish traveled through Syria with Sydney’s Anglican Church Reverend Dave Smith, on his ‘Boxers for Peace’ mission. The life-changing journey brought him insights into the lives and stories of the people he encountered.
Despite the poverty and plight of the war-ravaged civilization, Cornish was able to experience first-hand the hope, generosity and defiant positivity of the people of Syria. Taking these reflections back and pouring them into his work, Cornish was then invited to return to Syria to exhibit the show at the Damascus Opera House.
Set on returning to the country, Cornish set about collecting donations for art supplies in Australia for his work with the children of Syria, but in doing so, found he encountered issues with PayPal obstructing any contributions with the label ‘Syria’ or ‘Syrian’ attached. His visit to the area wasn’t without incident either, as he found himself arrested in the wrong area at gunpoint, without the correct papers for his visit. However, the experience has left him un-jaded as to the warmth and humanity of the ordinary people he met along the way.
Vertical Gallery celebrates their four year anniversary with Blek le Rat, the founder of the international stencil art movement. The exhibition “Ratical” opens on Saturday April 1, 6:00 – 10:00pm. The artist will be in attendance.
Blek Le Rat (Xavier Prou) was born in Paris, France in 1951. Considered one of the originators of the European street art movement, Blek le Rat inspired hundreds of artists around the world with his stenciled style. He is frequently cited as a major influence of artists like Banksy and Shepard Fairey; and through his work in Paris he established a style of urban art that quickly spread through Europe and the United States.
Blek describes his early work as apolitical, explaining that he just wanted a way to stand out and to free himself from the feeling of anonymity caused by living in a major city. He was one of the first people to use stencils to make public art on the street using icons instead of writing his name. He started decorating the streets of Paris in 1981 with a rat stencil, hoping to create an invasion of rats – “the only free animal in the city”, while creating a style that would suit Paris and not copy the American style. His street name is said to originate from a childhood cartoon “Blek Le Roc”, also using “rat” as an anagram for “art”.
He studied fine art and architecture at Beaux-Arts in Paris, graduating in 1982. Before his graduation, Prou visited New York City and developed a fascination with the city’s graffiti and street art. “To me, the most interesting aspect of street art is the constant opportunities to be surprised and/or amazed. I lose interest when something becomes routine”.
Blek has created street art around the world, and has had exhibitions in Paris, London, New York, Milan, Melbourne, San Francisco, Munich, and Los Angeles.
Blek le Rat – “Ratical”
April 1 – 29, 2017
Opening reception with artist, Saturday, April 1, 6:00 – 10:00 pm.
Vertical Gallery, 1016 N Western Ave., Chicago
Melbourne is known worldwide for its graffiti, and has many crews with a number of big names. One of these names is PORNO. Having recently dropped his very first print, we thought it best to catch the man from his lair at Everfresh Studio to get the low down.
Damo: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Porno: Sure. I write Porno… ISO, CDF, LED, STD, 321, ADC, INN, WS4, WSO, ID.
I’ve been writing graff for 22 years. I started painting in 1994. My painting was originally influenced directly through hip-hop, older friends, older brothers and the people I hung out with as a hyperactive kid.
I pretty much started DJing, B-Boying, trying to MC and was part of the start a crew called “ISO” which was a hip-hop crew. Many years later that I was only really interested in painting graff. I ended up working in signage and doing a design degree. From there on I decided I wanted to get into my own signage biz because it was the most relevant thing to painting at the time for me. I had worked for numerous signage companies, became a production manager, and became really interested in production, manufacturing and technology which changed a lot of my perception of my art and my processes.
Painting is how I first I started to intertwine with people of the culture. At one point I stepped away from painting all together for a couple of years (around 2006 or 2007). I got back into it around 2008-2009 when I decided I would set up my own signage business. I met with all the guys from ‘Per Square Metre’ and got back into graffiti painting with more positive people and a fresh outlook. I ended up setting up another separate studio after ‘Per Square Metre’ ended called ‘Safe House Studio’ where it was a similar sort of vein; a heap of graffiti artists and artists who ran their own businesses from there and worked together on numerous creative projects, murals etc. The studio got its title from a police raid which occurred within the first month of opening. One of the transit police officers claimed it was a graffiti safe house!
Eventually that closed down and I moved in at the Everfresh Studio, still running my signage business. Here, I’m surrounded by all these amazing paintings and people who are proactive enough to do what they want to do. It’s invigorating and essentially it’s really motivating.
Late in 2016, Rone held his solo show ‘Empty’ in Melbourne’s old Lyric Theatre, the last event to be shown there prior to demolition. Between finishing the show and returning the keys, Rone invited a select few into the space to collaborate and beautify the theatre a little more prior to the wrecking ball.
One of these artists, Mayonaize, internationally renowned tattooist and calligraffiti extraordinaire painted and documented a mandala filling the entire floor space. He documented this entire process through both film and photography. Damo went down to Everfresh Studios to chat with Mayo about this project.
Damo: Could we initially start by you introducing yourself and talk a little bit about you background and your artistic practice?
Mayo: I am known as ‘Mayo’ or ‘Mayonaize, my backgrounds are in both graffiti and tattooing. I am basing everything these days off of more calligraphic approach and trying to push that lettering thing as far as I can. At the same time I am trying to not to pigeon hole myself, but it doesn’t seem to be working. It could be a bad thing… I’m not sure.
Damo: Why Mayo or Mayonaize?
Mayo: I was desperate for a new graffiti word. I used to write any words – words that had meanings or connotations I didn’t necessarily want to be tied to later on down the track. When I thought about it I realised that I didn’t want to get stuck with some word like ‘snake’ or something. I feel that some people have got words that don’t suit them. I watched the film ‘Style Wars’ and Duster said, ‘Graffiti, it’s like a game, it’s like here are your letters go do something with it.’ It really stuck with me. I came across the word Mayo thought I’d try make something out of it. It just turned out that ‘mayo’ was a funny word to use in graffiti, I kind of liked the word and the sound of it. Then I did an exhibition and this was how I was going to stop the cops from catching me, I was like ‘I will just call myself ‘Mayonnaise’.
So then it just turned into ‘Mayonnaise’. Instagram came along and I used ‘Z’, because ‘Mayonnaise’ wasn’t available. I kind of keep Mayonaize for the legal stuff I do and ‘Naise’ for keeping them them off my scent (laughs).
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The awesome force of nature that is Swoon headed back to Haiti to get stuck into her latest project, helping repair and rebuild the communities as part of the Konbit Shelter project. In her own words, she tells us about the work she is doing there:
“With great joy, we have begun to build our bamboo home in Haiti. Architect Joana Torres and I arrived last week, joining forces with the team in Cormiers. There’s a lot of excitement in the air, and much to be done over the next few months.”
‘The Second Coming’ is the second part of a two part series of works entitled KEEZUS that first debuted in 2014. The body of work draws on the exploration of the human condition, utilizing the stencil art process. It explores the theme of the ego, specifically the artists ego, and experiences.
It’s a dissection of what it is to be a stencil artist and will showcase the medium in a way that has never been done before. Each work concentrates on the inner battle we have with who we are, who we are perceived to be, and how they differ.
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“I wanted to create a body of work that reacted to the Australian suburbs as a whole. They have informed so much of our national identity but seem to undermine a deeper understanding of history and landscape in this country. This work is a reaction to that.” – IAN STRANGE
“It was during his residency at the deYoung Museum in San Francisco that our abstract show was conceived, beginning with Love My Lovelies and carrying thru to works inspired by locations from Hasegawa’s native Hawaii the art is transformative and sublime.”
DK Johnston, curator
Known for his gestural imagery of bears and heroes, painter Chad Hasegawa elevates the medium of house paint into the fine art realm with his beautiful works of fine art. Taking influence from graffiti and mural art, the San Francisco-based artist creates his portraits and figures with a heavy hand akin to the Abstract Expressionist movement of the 1940s. Completely self-taught, Hasegawa has developed a multi-layered style of mixing tones and shades that is enigmatic on canvas as it is on the street.
Hasegawa first made waves in the street art world with his series of majestic bears, painted with chunky brick-like marks and drips that intertwine to make dimensional tonality. Leaving a career in advertising, Hasegawa focused on creating murals in San Francisco. Like the work of Claude Monet, his mark making is aggressive and abstract up close, but softer and unified when viewed from afar. Using bucket paint and a flat brush, he is able to create an abstract style that is as fitting in the street art realm as it is amongst the work of his favorite Ab Ex artists like Joan Mitchell, Franz Kline and Robert Motherwell.
The artists who have influenced and shaped Hasegawa’s trajectory became the focus of his series painted while the artist in residence at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. The artists depicted, such as Keith Haring and Joan Mitchell, had such an integral influence on Hasegawa, that he has painted their faces as if they were self portraits. His unique mix of oversized brushes and latex paint has made Hasegawa an artist to watch.
Profile by Lori Zimmer (Art Nerd NY)
Premiering today, 15 February 2017, on the Australian ABC iview ‘HOME: the Art of Ian Strange ‘ is a six part documentary covering Ian’s career to date.
This documentary will also be a fantastic lead in to Ian’s upcoming Sydney show,’Shadow’ launching on 2 March 2017 in Sydney.
Check them out if you can!