After a being unable to work on big projects for about a year due to health issues, El Mac is back on track and making up for the “lost time”. Last December he took part in an independent project together with his long time friend David ‘Grave’ Herrera, and painted new striking murals in Ciudad Juarez & El Paso.
Being based in that area for the short time in the 90s, the artist developed an appreciation for that boarder region and sensibility for all the violence, corruption and injustice that has plagued that region for the last near-decade. Both murals were based on his own photos that he took in 2012 during Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity (Caravana por la Paz con Justicia y Dignidad), and were created with his unique technique using only aerosol and fatcaps.
In Ciudad Juarez he painted an “Juarense y Poderosa”, based on photos of a young woman who lost her mother to kidnapping. And in El Paso he created “Ánimo Sin Fronteras”, based on photos of a man whose son was disappeared by corrupt police. In artist’s eyes both of these individuals represent countless others who’ve lost and suffered in recent years.
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
Invade Tv Productions and Phantoms of Space made us this little behind the scenes flick Run The Jewels’ latest Music Video ‘Lie Cheat Steal’ Directed by Ruff Mercy of My Accomplice, featuring artwork by Onga, Sepr and Jon 5.
Growing up in the 80s, loving all things hip hop… El-P and Killer Mike talk about two elements of the genre; Graffiti and Rap Music and about how much this piece means to them, and the significance of hip hop culture that leads to artist collaborations like this.
Artists Jon 5, Onga and Sepr create an amazing Run The Jewels piece in Shoreditch, London for the music video.
With props to Chrome & Black for paint support.
Directed by James Sharrock www.facebook.com/jamessharrockphotographer
Edited by Trevor Poulsum www.facebook.com/trevor.poulsum
Camera: James Sharrock and Doug Gillen
Interview by Doug Gillen www.facebook.com/fifthwalltv
You can watch the full music video here:
Notorious French artist Horfee opened a solo show @ Ruttkowski;68 gallery in Cologne on Friday 5th of December. The artist who has both formal artistic education, but is most know for his illegal graffiti works, gave a good overview of his current works through “Traditional Occupations”.
Inspired by everything from European abstract painting to homemade tattoos, vintage animations and underground comics, Horfee is no stranger to using various medias and techniques for creating recognizable works. His colorful creations with loose edges are presented in form of acrylic and spray paint canvases, works on glass, sculptures and even embroidery. Through his work Horfee proudly shows the flaws of his techniques by creating melting imagery that is conforming to anything but ordinary or traditional.
We got a cup of tea with London-based artists Word To Mother ahead of his latest show, Too Blessed To Be Stressed, at Stolen Space Gallery, opening Thursday 9th October. Getting the rundown on his development as an artist and his other love, tattooing.
We caught up with Norwegian artist, Martin Whatson at NUART Festival to chat about his artwork. This is some stuff he said.
We caught up with French artist TILT while he was over in Stavanger, Norway, painting things for NUART Festival. The mural he painted is also available as a print release. Here’s what he had to say for himself…
The original book of London graffiti. Out of print since 1976, now reissued and expanded, with new text and unseen photographs.
After 38 years out of print, Roger Perry’s unique survey of London graffiti of the mid ’70s is finally going to be available once more. Just as relevant nearly forty years on, Perry’s book is as much a cultural history of London at the time as it is a graffiti book.
Montana Colors brings together 20 international graffiti artists to celebrate 20 years anniversary at their hometown store/gallery – Montana Gallery Barcelona. This unique exhibition will show artworks of such graffiti legends as Dems, Dilk, Fasim, Flash, Jaba, Kaos, Kapi, Klor/Scien, Mookie, Musa, Nose, Os Gemeos, Popay, Posk, Sendys, Sunk, Suso33, Tkid, Wow123, Zeta. These 20 names are only representatives for the many other friends of the company, that won’t be able to get credit to in any gallery in the world, no matter how big it was.
Os Gemeos are currently in Vancouver, BC, working on a fantastic new project for the Vancouver Binneale. Continuing their ongoing series of murals titled “Giants” previously realized in Greece, USA, Poland, Portugal, the Netherlands, Brazil and
England, these six gigantic 70-foot (21 metre) tall silos, are gonna be their largest mural to date, and their first one painted in Canada.
Aside from it’s impressive size, this mural is 3 dimensional, so the total surface sums up to incredible 23,500 square feet (7,162 square metres)!