I first started seeing Knocks work around Melbourne some time ago, periodically appearing in run down abandos and a variety of walls sprawled across the city – immediately, there was just something that drew me to his work, whether it was the seemingly ordered chaos of his pieces, or the strange and pensively creepy character work that peered out from broken bricks, pinpoint eyes mirroring the decay around them.
Like other artists who choose to follow this type chaotic expression, Knocks work is infused with a variety of influences from pop culture, to the surreal and macabre – his often use of grey tones with a scattering of colour amongst his creations allows them to, almost, blend in with otherwise nondescript scenery. Out of the corners of your world weary urban eyes, Knocks phantasms creep, meander and splay themselves between the recesses of your thoughts – and, all too often, you find yourself sucked into their vortextually intricate details.
Having travelled to Europe for the summer, and spent a large amount of time wandering Australia, Knock now finds himself landing in Melbourne, where he will be putting on a solo show, Terra Senectus, at House Of Bricks. Not being one to pass up a great opportunity, I had a chat to him about his work, his show, and all the beautiful craziness of his work.
Read on, and enjoy …
Can you tell us how you first started out as an artist and how you first become interested in art?
I’m not sure, really. I traveled lots as a kid and would use it as escape in the never ending transit between locations. Also I started out documenting what I saw along the way, but I only really started to pursue it full time when I was in my late teens.
I was constantly surrounded by creative humans growing up, as my parents ran a travelling circus – the menagerie of different specimens who excelled in their different skills pushed me on.
Your work has a bunch of traditional, Graffiti elements, but is also mixed in with the fantastical and biological – where did your style spring from? Do you have any formal artistic background, and what kind of identities within art do you believe your work most grooves with?
I didn’t study any formal visual arts. I think it all started when I found aerosol around the age of 14 and was painting most days and nights, then it kind of just formed itself out of the years of chiseling away.
I had a few mentors growing up that helped along the way. In early childhood I was exposed to a certain book by “Brian Fraud” and that kind of shaped my nightmares for years to come – most of the content in my work I’ve met before in my sleep, or in other altered states.
In what way do you try to push your style forward and progress the work that you do?
Being fast has always been something that I’ve been pushing over the years, due to the fact that the faster you paint, the more you can accomplish on the wall. The faster you get, the more options you have of trying new elements and layers, making it a better finished product.
Another plus is that it allows you to paint a huge range of different, not so legal, spots while still being aesthetically pleasing, when most people would be daunted by time constraints.
You’ve also done a few collaborations not only with traditional graffiti elements but also more street art aesthetics, can you tell us a bit about some of your collaborative pieces?
Mostly, when I have collaborated with someone in the past, it is due to the fact that we get along socially and our styles work together.
I like working on collaborative pieces in high traffic night spots. As long as they are relatively quick, know how to not draw attention and are clued on to the basic rules, its always a pleasure.
You’ve done a fair bit of travel, recently spending time in Berlin – can you share a few stories of where you’ve been, and some of the more interesting adventures you’ve had along the way?
For the last four years I’ve been making an effort to change my surroundings every six months just to be able to paint different spots, meet new people and get away from that stagnant comfort zone that most of us live in. Berlin is pretty amazing. I’ve kind of been using it as a summer base in Europe for the last two years – the city is constantly changing and is really good for general quality of life.
The highlight of travelling over the last few years has been all the different forgotten spaces I’ve been hunting – the human race has left a pretty nice array of structures to paint in almost every country I’ve been to.
How does Berlin compare at the moment, in your mind, to the scene here in Australia and Melbourne in particular?
Berlin is completely different in a few ways the first one being no one who lives there has any money to spend on art, on the other hand the creative scene is huge and constantly evolving which opens up massive opportunities that wouldn’t usually happen any where else.
I think its about to over flow, though, as every week more and more people flock there, making it more expensive – but, also creating a bigger scene – this is both good and bad depending on where you stand.
What is it about Australia in general that gives you a sense of creative energy?
The most amazing thing about Australia is that most people forget is that this land is really old – surprisingly, it is relatively untouched by humans, this being due to the aboriginals being nomadic and having a symbiotic relationship with their environment.
The flora and fauna that occupy the different habitats around Terra Australis are all pretty unique as well, and have had a while to adapt to the diverse surroundings they live within. This intrigues me and I think a lot of that kind of subject matter comes out subconsciously in my work.
So, this latest exhibition of yours, tell us all about it – where it’s at, what it’s all about, and how you think that this show helps you to move forward with your art.
Terra Senectus translates to “Old Planet” this latest body of work delves into the concept of deep time, instead of thinking in hundreds or thousands of years it measures in millions even billions of years.
The idea that humanity is just a fleeting moment on the larger scale of the earths life cycle has always interested me, also the idea of the endless possibilities of other creatures and races that may have once lived on this fertile planet. The mediums I’ve been working with range from oil painting, block printing and fabric extraction – they have each opened up quite a few new challenges. It’s pleasant using your brain in ways it wouldn’t usually function, and pushing normal cognitive formulas.
What do you have planned for the rest of the year, and, indeed, the future? What projects lie unrealised, and what would you like to investigate with your work next?
After my show i intend to stick around in Australia for a little while longer and explore some spots I haven’t been to. Next year I’ll be doing a residency in south east Asia for a few months, and I’ll see what effect it has on the body of work I’ve created at the end of it all.
Berlin is definitely on the cards again, along with a heap of new projects I’ve been working on over the last few months, there’s a few big things in the works, but I don’t want to give away to much before it transpires …