Theres often a definitive focal point in the work of George Diamandis that does exactly what is intended – it draws in the viewers gaze, seeking the nexus of the work, and as your focus drifts, the detailed surrounds unravel themselves into a contiguous whole.
I first came across Georges work about a year ago, after a somewhat interesting journey up to Maitreya festival. From the initial glances at his sketchup, to the placement of colours and geometries across the boards he was using, for all its apparent chaotica of intersecting lines, there was nothing that wasn’t concisely planned.
Having worked within graffiti for many years, George has, like many others, begun to explore the richness of letters, form and geometry as an avenue towards fine art. From what we have seen thus far, this new direction has suited his form perfectly.
With his very first showing of work coming up at House Of Bricks, we caught up with the man to talk all things graffiti, the renaissance, mathematics and his move towards the gallery walls with a freshly invigorating, emboldened body of work …
So, tell us, back when you were younger – how did you start out? When did you first pick up a pen and start to draw?
In my family home, there was often paper and pens around. From a young age I would apply ink to a surface, usually paper, for writing or drawing. Being of the curious nature, naturally I would experiment with objects and test my surroundings. At a young age, I also took a liking to cursive and elaborate writing – especially when done with speed in fancy signatures and autographs.
How about graffiti? You have mentioned that you have, for the most part, been involved with graff for quite some time – can you tell us how you first started out in it?
I would regularly see graffiti in my neighbourhood, some writing that read: “Prodigal sons give birth to daughters” and in another location “Eat this information”. I didn’t know what it meant, or even that it was graffiti, but I questioned everything, how long was it there? Who wrote it? What did they mean? Why? Etc. It amused me nonetheless.
I remember seeing tags and pieces in the early 90’s when my parents would drive across the city to visit relatives and family friends homes, I took notice of it, and made connections with the names. I appreciated the style, but also that a person had travelled to this location well before me, and left their name for me and everyone else to see – “RB7” is a name that comes to mind.
Although I respected laws and customs to some extent, I didn’t fear the “destructive” act; in fact I didn’t really think about what I was doing, I just did what I liked because I could. I was bombing and piecing in Melbourne city from the age of 12, but over the years, sometimes, I would stop painting for months.
While most of my peers were getting heavily into drugs and violence, graffiti was my only escape; at the same time I could be creative and exercise physical activity. For example, climbing, running and cycling all over the city.
How about stories? Every writer has a story – what have been some of your most interesting ones of the things you’ve painted, and the people you’ve painted with, along the way …
There are too many stories and writers to mention. In brief, I think that, for trains, once you have the right approach to paint and bomb it gets simpler, and while exciting it was usually the same old story.
Conversely, the streets are interesting and complex, especially as a young boy when everything is new. So many unexpected things happened. Although the people of the night are funny and made for good stories, Melbourne can be a very aggressive city from the police with both their attitude and behaviour, to the general public who are usually alcohol fuelled while on the streets by night, and will usually not tolerate graffiti.
You have moved into fine art a lot more over the past few years – what actually prompted you to move more in the fine art direction? A lot of writers have moved into the “fine art” world these days – some hate it, some love it, most just accept that its a part of the game – what’s your take on it all?
I think that art and life are synonymous. You will find that the principals of art relate to all aspects of life for example: Unity, Harmony, Variety, Balance, Contrast, Proportion, Pattern and Rhythm. I studied art in high school but went on to study commerce at a university level and found the same relationships occurring in the planning, organising leading and control theories of business management. So for me, there is some truth in art. If you take away the letters in graffiti style and put it on a canvas all of a sudden it becomes abstract art … So it’s all the same to me, people get caught up in all these definitions, “street art” “tag” “vandalism”.
Having said that, graffiti should not be in art galleries, this is really when its not graffiti anymore … the illegal side is the spice. Free for the public. Real graffiti with no rules or authority to abide by, just pure art that is a truly human gesture.
Your work has a hell of a lot of geometry to it – we love it – where did this style emerge from, beyond graff? What is it with geometry and lines that you love the most?
The typical styles that were seen in the early 90’s graffiti of Australia, France, Germany and America are the basis of my graffiti culture. But I wanted to open myself and try to go towards new directions.
For my fine art, I am influenced by the romantic renaissance art of Italy and France from the 14th century that relied heavily on linear perspective and balance and thus geometry.
How about your use of colour? How important is colour in your work – most of the pieces we’ve seen have had a lot of vibrancy to them – is choosing a colour palette an innate thing, or do you put a lot of thought into it?
To be honest, I don’t care a lot of the time; I must be free when I paint, like I am on a trip … I paint what I want and when I want. I continue until the balance and other principals I spoke of earlier are right in my mind. After doing it many times, I have become better at getting the balance of colour right. It is just a matter of correctly using the principals or art.
As in Mathematics, we use quantity, structure, space, and change, to seek out patterns. Mathematics in Greek translates to “knowledge, study, and learning” I prefer to use paintings rather than equations to accomplish this.
Can you tell us a bit about the show you have coming up at House Of Bricks later this month? What kind of work will you be bringing to it, and what do you hope to get out of it yourself?
Well, it was never my intention to be an “artist” who exhibits work at galleries. I never showed people my art in the past. It was really the only thing that I could have complete control over, without someone trying to interfere with it. I began to show some people, and the girls really took a liking to it, which motivated me haha.
More importantly, and seriously speaking, I was lost, and my art was the only thing that I could turn to that would calm me. My art allows me to work hard and avoid vice and idleness with guaranteed results. My time and energy when painting leaves no room for philosophical speculation that can often overwhelm me. I had doubts about exhibiting but it is important for me to finish what I start. The exhibition will be made up of acrylic and ink paintings and drawings on canvas, card and paper, as well as some original prints.
Is this your first show, or have you done a couple before? What kind of shows and events have you worked or exhibited at?
I am an amateur with nothing to lose, just getting started; this will be my first exhibition.
The works have been painted mainly between 2010 – to present, however there is also some from as early as 2004 that I thought I would include. There will be around 25 artworks displayed. As for events, I was invited to paint at Maitreya festival in Victoria 2012, where I met you – it was a good time (thanks to Lach).
So, what will you be doing after the show? What other plans do you have to push your art in the coming years?
Who knows what I will be doing next, I don’t want to be labelled as such, I always need to spend time searching for new ideas and be creative. Perhaps the exhibition will open doors, and I will be able to collaborate with other artists for bigger projects involving film and music in the future. Peace to Dark Neggror and Zonk Vision!
As a conclusion some dedications:
Dedications to: Graffiti artists – WCA crew, Jumble (SDM), Renks (Melbourne) and MAC crew (Paris)
Other – DWS (homeboys), Deanne, Vittorio and Francesco, Kate Miller, Johanna Baudouin, also Alex Miller (Australian author), C.P Cavafy (Greek poet), Descartes (Search for truth by the light of nature) and Nietzsche – ZARATHUSTRA LIVES. – George Diamandis January 2013