“Time flies when you’re having fun,” was Bart Smeets’ aka Smates’ reaction when we first told him it had been a whole five years since we last covered him here at VNA. In the meantime he has managed to achieve that closest held dream of every creative mind, to make a living from his love. Although, as he later mentioned, such an achievement has come at a cost. With an interview that was five months in the making, we touched bases with him again after all this time for an update on how things have progressed.
Ben EINE recently unveiled his latest mural on the British Embassy, Abu Dhabi in the presence of his excellency Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan.
Ahead of his debut solo show in the Gulf region, EINE has created a 40-metre outdoor artwork on the perimeter wall of the British Embassy in Abu Dhabi. In a truly ground-breaking moment for the art scene in the region, His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan joined Her Majesty’s Ambassador Philip Parham and British Council Country Director, Marc Jessel to inaugurate the wall, with His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan taking up a spray can for the first time, to personally ‘tag’ the wall.
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
Brazilian street art legends, Os Gemeos, recently finished their biggest mural to date – Giants in Vancouver. Painting over 6 large 70-foot/21 meters tall silos, the twins created this magnificent 360 degree mural for Vancouver Biennale. This large piece of public art shows a small group of their signature yellow face characters, kneeling on the waterfront at Granville Island. (photos by @craige13)
Chinese artist DalEast is currently in NYC preparing his solo show with Jonathan Levine gallery. Opening on Sept 4th, “The Laten Photon” will be his 2nd show with the gallery. While in the city, the artist took a break from finalizing his works and working on a limited edition print that will be released with the show, and painted some public works that hes been widely known for.
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)!
REMED and OKUDA have been painting last week in Toronto within the project Streets of Colour. They also splashed some paint around at 461 King Street West. Both are inspired from the colorful Spanish way of life, with the second one adding Canadian references and elements.
Nick Walker is back in the Big Apple and firing on all four cylinders.
We got down to see him painting his latest mural in LES, here’s a few VNA exclusive shots…
More jump off after the jump off…
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With ASSIOMA Moneyless and Augustine Kofie meet at the Avantgarden Gallery to explore a new theory, finding together all the similarities and differences in their works, juxtaposing them. Moneyless takes care of building a solid foundation and Kofie begins a process of research combing Geometric and Hyperuranic Platonic perfection with the virus of reality. The work of Augustine Kofie therefore becomes one of the possible variables directly connected with Moneyless’ axiomatic purity.
More jump off after the jump off…
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Aussie artist, SMC3 has just dropped a new video of his latest mural at Sydney’s rad Marlowe’s Way bar, we’re loving the Suicidal Tendencies soundtrack.
See more of his work HERE