Admittedly, this is the first time we have heard of Skount – for which I am actually slightly dismayed – because his work both in the gallery, as well as out on the streets, is fucking rad.
That bastion of brand spanking cool in Sydney, The Tate, will be playing host to this Spanish artist tomorrow night for his first Australian show – "Fragments Of Mythological Dreams", and it looks like an amazing show.
“Dreams are not just messages (coded messages, at that), but are also an aesthetic activity, a game of the imagination that has its own value. Dreams are proof that fantasies – emotional immersion in the visualization of events that have never and may never occur – are one of the profoundest necessities for human life. The characters that come from my imagination are my own possibilities, those that never came to bear, or those still on my horizon.” – Skount
Inspired by the classical Spanish theatre of his hometown, Skount’s oneiric masked characters beckon the viewer from the urban environment into their mysterious and playful dreamscapes. The great playwrights of Skount’s youth formed a lasting impression, where he regards life as a wonderful play, in which everyone has a role. Driven by the fundamental desire to free his own mind, Skount’s creativity knows no bounds. With a background in graffiti, his artistic expression spans paint, paper, music and performance, to video art, sculpture, and installation. Skount’s irrepressible curiosity for other cultures has inspired him to travel and study different forms of creativity and traditions around the world. Currently based in Amsterdam, Skount has worked and exhibited throughout Spain, Europe, China, Mexico, Israel and the United States.
Now for the first time in Australia, The Hours presents ‘Fragments of Mythological Dreams’, an exhibition of new paintings and installation by Skount. In this exhibition, inspired by Ancient Greek myths and legends, Skount presents a reality, drawing a relatively cohesive oneiric spectrum with mythology. Recounting a pictorial discourse by which we enter into a world of dreams, created to explain the universe, the origin of the world, natural phenomena and anything for which there is no simple explanation. Through this new body of work on canvas and paper, Skount investigates this complex philosophical world full of arguments about the nature, properties, causes and effects of natural things, especially the human being and the universe."
Skounts work edges across bizarre dreamscapes, theatrical nuances and unrelenting facets of carnivalesque brilliance – if you want to see something unique and beautifuically produced, head down to the Tate in Sydney tomorrow night for his show.
Who: Skount What: Fragments Of Mythological Dreams Where: The Tate, 345 Glebe Pt Rd, Glebe, Sydney When: Show opens Wednesday 15th May from 6pm til 9pm
Something special for you today that I really wanted to share! After two and a half months travel in Central America (expect a whole bundle of Sojourn articles coming up from all across Mexico and Guatemala!) I arrived this week in NYC. As luck would have it, dynamos José Parlá and JR were having an opening tonight at Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery in Chelsea! Read on for the media release, to give you an idea of what it was all about …
"The Wrinkles of the City was started by JR in Cartagena, Spain and has been reprised in Shanghai, Los Angeles, and most recently, Havana. In 2012, JR and Parlá photographed and interviewed dozens of senior citizens who lived through the Cuban revolution, flyposting colossal black-and-white portraits of their subjects on the walls of city buildings. Parlá, who is of Cuban descent, interlaces the images with palimpsestic, calligraphic writings and color. In a city devoid of commercial imagery, JR and Parlá’s enormous yet intimate portraits offer a stunningly humane contrast to the endless repetition of political icons.
This exhibition will consist of twelve large portraits from the Havana iteration of The Wrinkles of the City project along with a site-specific installation."
Although it was mighty packed inside, there was some really great work on display – most of it imagery from the many walls they’d worked on – but there was one piece, was that "site specific installation", that I fucking loved …
Check out the pics from the opening below (excuse the not so grand shots, I’m not the worlds greatest photographer!) to give you an idea of how it all was – and check out all the pics of the work in the show here.
Way back in October, we brought you news of a new project that I’ve been working on with Jo Jette, a brand spanking new print magazine by the name of Damn It! Well, it’s done, printed and all ready to go – and we’re having a party to celebrate!!
Designer and Publisher Jo Jette has been working on the amazing Nothing To Nobody for a few years now, which, sadly, has just released its awesome final issue (Jo will be working on Damn It! from here on out!) This dynamo of a lady has crafted what I think is a stunning, collectable piece of visual beauty, and written a slew of grand articles. For myself, well, I’ve edited my ass off on this one, and if you’ve been reading Invurt for a while then you can expect a whole bunch of full feature articles from yours truly on artists from across the globe!
"Tired of the same old same old? Want to feel like you’re doing something positive when you shell out your hard earned cold cash for a magazine? Want value for money in a convenient bag size read? Then say hello to our little friend – DAMN IT!
DAMN IT! is a brand spankin’ new, biannual, 96 page, limited edition magazine run by Publisher & Designer Jo Jette (of Nothing to Nobody magazine), and Editor in Chief Fletcher Andersen (aka Facter, of online art webzine, Invurt). We put every cent we have into the publication, so that each issue will kick the can of the previous one.
Each issue we feature juicy articles on super talented peeps – illustrators, photographers, typographers, painters, writers, and other creative types as well as reporting on the more serious side of things from around the world.
We also shine a Bat-signal on some of the amazingly selfless work done by caring peeps setting up and running not-for-profits all round the world. We’re not afraid to put our money where our damn big mouths are, and we pledge to donate $0.50 from each copy of DAMN IT! sold to the not-for-profit we feature in that issue, which in our first ever issue is Skateistan, a not-for-profit set up to teach kids to skate in Afghanistan, Cambodia and Pakistan. Skatistan also teach journalism and art to their students, 40% of whom are girls. Plus we’ve adopted a Polar Bear for our first issue to accompany our article on Polar Bears and Arctic conservation, but just wait ‘til you see what we are sponsoring for issue 2!!
Launching officially on 2 May at the Just Another Project Space in 153 Greville St, Prahran (Melbourne) from 6-9pm, and we’ll be giving away a Hamburger YoYo to everyone who attends. Yes, you heard us right – so join us for a drink!"
It’s a bittersweet feeling, knowing that the mag is being launched, and my not being able to actually attend the launch party! Lamentations aside, both Jo and I are stoked at how the mag has turned out, and we’re sure that you’ll all love this first issue (we hope!) – its been a long process and a lot of hard work, trial and trepidation, but its something we’re pretty proud of.
So, we’d love for you to al head on down to the launch party next Thursday – grab a mag, enjoy a read and let us know what you think!!! Massive thanks to the team at Just Another for letting us use their awesome Just Another Project Space for the launch, we couldn’t be happier with the venue!!
Massive thanks to everyone for all of their support, especially the artists and advertisers who are featured in the first issue!
Who: The first issue of Damn It! Magazine features articles on artists and creatives such as Lee Romao, Greg ‘Craola’ Simkins, Ken Taylor, Chris Peters, Poise, Adam Oehlers, Ink & Clog, Skateistan, Polar Bears of the Arctic, Naoto Hattori, Tom Hussey, and Hit+Run and some special artwork from Chris Hancock and Eleven, photography from Nicole Reed and much more. What: Damn It! Magazine Launch Party Where:Just Another Project Space, 153 Greville St, Prahran, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia When: Opening will be one night only, Thursday 2nd May 2013 from 6pm til 9pm!
Lets Go, Magic Weirdos is succeeded by the brilliantly curated Magic Weirdos Never Die – which once again sees Sean gathering together a diverse array of talent that has the magical underpinnings of weirdosity as its theme.
"As Scawfell street officially opens for business we are thrilled to present “Magic Weirdos Never Die” – a group exhibition featuring 11 contemporary artists from 4 different countries, curated by Sean Morris. Following on from the successful group show "Let’s Go Magic Weirdos", held last year in his hometown of Perth, Western Australia, the ridiculously talented Sean Morris is at it again. This time he’s bringing his work and bunch of impressive, magical weirdos to London.
The line-up includes Australian art heroes Ghostpatrol and Kyle Hughes-Odgers, Spanish comic artist Berto Fojo, the prolific Luke Pelletier from the States and killer London based illustrators Suzie Kemp, Jasper Dunk and Jon Boam. Along side these phenomenal names will be the usual awesome depravity from Londoner James Unsworth, the black metal space demons of Madrid’s Manuel Donada, beautifully strange and politically charged drawings from Florida’s Dillon Froelich and the white trash fables of Sean Morris himself, who hits London just 2 weeks after a successful solo exhibition in Madrid."
With such an incredible lineup of fantastic artists, this is a show that if you’re in London, you really need to go and see. The first show was brilliant, this one will be just as much – what wonder does Sean Morris have in store for us next??
Who: Sean Morris, Kyle Hughes-Odgers, Ghostpatrol, Berto Fojo, Luke Pelletier, Suzie Kemp, Jasper Dunk, Jon Boam, James Unsworth, Manuel Donada, Dillon Froelich What: Magic Weirdos Never Die Where:Scawfell Street,6A Scawfell Street, E2 8NG London, United Kingdom When: Show opens Thursday May 2nd from 6pm til 9pm
Late last year Rone was contacted by Victoria’s Secret to use the walls he painted in Miami in their new TV commercial. Check it out below. Awesome exposure for Rone with over 1.5M views to date. Some screen grabs of the footage also below.
Throughout my journey across San Francisco, one thing that I kept a good eye out for was for all the stickers across the city. There aint nothing I love more than a good wad of slaps, and San Fran totally delivered on that front!
This had to have been one of the best stickers I saw hahaha.
One thing I particularly loved was the abundance of stickered newspaper boxes.
Even ATM machines are not safe from the onslaught of radness.
Down in The Haight, stickers seemed the norm on every surface – I especially loved all of these.
Nowhere escapes the slap – out on a pier in the middle of the water, the Bay Bridge gorgeous in the background, these were some of my favourite stickers in my favourite spot!
I also visited the California Academy of Sciences whilst I was there – I fkn loved it and would recommend visiting, and as someone else had already left a little something, I decided to leave my own …
Check out all the photos of the San Francisco street art and graffiti stickers I spotted below – these were all over, and they are fkn mad. I’ve got one more post of my adventures in San Fran coming, then its on to Mexico … enjoy!
After his great show in an construction site in Collingwood DOES releases his final video in his Endless Perspectives series. The best city in the world, Melbourne. Featuring some iconic local scenery and amazing painting by the man. Enjoy.
After having spent a really good amount of time in Kuala Lumpur and checking out the streets and walls of Singapore, I picked up stumps and headed over the Pacific on the next part of what has now turned into an epic adventure; San Francisco – I’m in Guatemala right now, so San Fran actually feels a world away!
That said, I fucking loved San Fran. Apart from my shock at how badly the homeless situation has worsened since my last visit there ten years ago (wtf America, how can shit get so bad, seriously?), I have to say it was pretty amazing. San Francisco is a city of so many facets that, well, there’s just no way I can cover it all here. Instead, I’m going to split my visit up into two pieces – one from an amazing day trekking through The Mission district, one covering all the stickers I saw and the one with all the rest – all, I’m happy to say, are big, big posts and are absolutely fascinating.
One thing that San Francisco has, for which I am many others are more than thankfully are, is a veritable plethora of paintspotters – those who seek out new pieces of graffiti and street art to share with those of us who may not be fortunate enough to live in the area. Melbourne has them, and almost every city has them, and for a certainty San Fran has them, spanning San Francisco graffiti and street art every day. So, it was a no brainer when I arrived in San Fran that I’d try to catch up with one of my favourite instagram paintspotters – @pixelina.
I’d been following @Pixelina on IG for some time, and have had the pleasure of seeing a huge bunch of amazing images that she’s taken from all over the city – so when I contacted her and asked if she could show me some of her favourite spots, she was more than obliging. It just so happened, that another of my favourite IG paintspotters was in town on the same day, @purpurella (who takes a bunch of great shots from around LA), so it all turned into one big paintspotting mission in the Mission – honestly, these girls were amazing.
We started out meeting at coffee shop in the Mission, have to say, this was some of the nicest coffee I’ve ever tasted. It wasn’t long though, until the crew arrived and we headed off to see what the day had to offer.
Not far away proceeded to walk down a variety of the many laneways throughout the Mission – each harbouring a multitude of art. From graffiti, murals to street art, the cornucopia of colour reminded me in many ways of what we have in Melbourne around Fitzroy and Collingwood, the two had a very similar feel … I have to say though, that there may be a little more art in the Mission than there is in the F&C area … but that’s okay, I’m sure we’ll catch up ;)
Whilst trekking through the multitude of streets, I spotted a store on a corner that had a bunch of art on the walls, and discovered Faze Apparel. I loved this place – these guys are doing really cool things, promoting local artists and artist designed clothing.
The art up on the walls was damn cool, and the threads were fresh – if you’re in the Mission at any time, drop by here. They also do regular art exhibitions as well, in fact, that’s what they started out doing before they opened up the store itself.
We walked through a great carpark that was a couple of blocks down from where we started, and spotted a bunch of great work in there as well.
Towards the end of the day, we found we’;d been walking for around six hours – so one of our last stops was to check out a neat van being painted by some friends of @pixelina – Eon75 (Max Ehrman)and someone whose work I’ve actually followed for a while (big fan of his toy!), Jesse Hernandez. It was a great way to finish off the day and watch some of San Frans finest in action.
Nearby, there was a huge collab wall – one of the parts had this robot, that I fkn loved!
On the way back, there were, of course, more walls to be seen – but probably my favourite one was this wall that Meggs, Ha-Ha and a bunch of others had painted when they were in San Fran for the Young & Free exhibition – a great wall to see on the last part of our journey throughout the mission.
Ended up the whole day exhausted and tired, and having a pint at the infamous Zeitgeist bar – felt like I was back in Fitzroy!!
Again, thanks to Pix, Purp and the others for a wonderful day – if you get yourself to San Fran, you can easily lose an entire day, or more, just walking the back streets of the Mission in search of great art – you cant miss it, its everywhere.
Check out a mass of photos of all the walls we saw in San Fran below … this is the largest collection of pics I’ve posted up here before, there’s about 280 of them – I could have culled, but there’s so damn much that’s good, and I wanted to document it all! In the next two part of my San Fran posts, I’ll post up a bunch more shots stuff from Haight and the rest of the city, murals, stickers and a visit to the newest minted Zero Friends store!
Enjoy – there’s several pages of these images so browse through by clicking on the numbers below!
Insa is here in Melbourne at the moment. He teamed up with Rone last week to paint this epic piece!
Insa has done several of these GIF-ITI style pieces where he paints, and repaints, and repaints the piece, taking photos along the way then bringing the piece to life. Here’s some examples of his previous work. This piece has to be one of my favourites though!!
“INSA has been in Australia for a few weeks now, you can follow some of his adventures HERE ON INSTAGRAM.
I’ve loved what he has been doing with his PATENTED GIF-ITI TECHNIQUE so when he asked me to make one with him I thought great! until I realised I had to paint the same thing in the exact same place 4 times!
A lot of hard work for 600 pixel looping animation but I’m stoked with the way it came out.”
Check it out – amazing!
David Russell was also on hand to get some mad photos of the whole process, check them out!
One of our favourite Perth lads, The Yok and Singaporean artist Sheryo both base themselves in New York City these days – which meant it was just a hop skip and a jump for then to head down to Mexico for a bit of a paint.
From Sheryo -
“Hello! The Yok and I just got back from a 2mths trip to Mexico where we painted for a festival, organised a Drink and Ink night. ( tattoo night ) and got in some surfing time.
The original sketches are available on heavyweight art paper or straight from the sketch book, please contact me for details if you are interested.”
Watch a fun video of the the first half of the trip here:
These guys have also done some amazing work at 5 Pointz and in Bushwick in the past week or two, really grand stuff.
Check out all the pics of their work in Mexico below, and get in quick if you want to buy any of them! Well be catching up with this pair when we hit NYC next month, so keep an eye out for more grandness to come!
There’s a story I was told by someone in Singapore that really resonated with me on the topic of the arts, culture and freedom of expression, and it goes something like this -
“The government decided to build a new MRT (train) station, but, after it had been completed they decided not to open it. Instead, they left it un-used for a long time. Instead of actually letting the public use it, and have demand follow, they decided to wait for a time when they thought that there would be enough people using it to make it viable to run.
After some time of it being practically mothballed, some students decided that they would do a bit of a protest about it all. They made a whole bunch of shirts with a white elephant on it and gathered at the station – of course, this was quickly stopped. The t-shirt was then banned.”
I don’t know why, that of all the things that I saw, heard and learnt about Singapore during my stay, still resonates with me so much. In my eyes, it actually doesn’t show any kind of failing of what Singapore is culturally, but rather, it shows how much promise the city state has when it comes to underground art; as we all know, there just aint nothing better than a blank canvas!
Some people have actually realised this, and not too long ago a bunch of commissioned work went up down near the waterfront in several of the pedestrian tunnels – someone had told me about it, so I headed down to check it all out.
Its a pretty heavy foot traffic area, when I headed down there it seemed like it was something akin to the waterfront in Melbourne – lots of restaurants hawking to tourists, which is good – more exposure to the art. The RSCLs crew (ZERO, ANTZ, CLOGTWO, SKLO and SHEEP) had a whole tunnel all to themselves – I’m a big fan of these guys, they’ve done some amazing work around the region. They also had a few other guests join them in the project, from what it looks like.
Funnily enough, Time Out Singapore just did an article about it all a week or so ago, and you can read a bit more about it all here – but its a really good overview of the whole thing. They said that they were” ” specially commissioned without having to go through the Open Call process, as the SRO believed that they were the top local street artists and wanted to send the message that this was the type of art they wanted for the project.” but exactly how much free reign they had over what they could do, I don’t know – probably not too much, given what I’ve heard about the somewhat authoritarian nature of imposed curatorial control over public art in the city.
From the Time Out article – ” After completing their research and going through a brainstorming session, ‘we just drew nonstop,’ according to Anthony Chong (aka ANTZ). Their piece features various characters from the past that have played important roles in shaping Singapore. ‘A parallel is drawn to the present, where the many business suits of our current labour force form a new metaphorical building of Singapore. [They] still drive the city with the equivalent hard work,’ says Chong. He adds that ‘this is an opportunity [for us to] try out new techniques and learn from each other, but we seldom expect or stick to the plan. Art is organic and therefore our piece will evolve according to the previous elements or the negative space left.’”
It is really a fkn gorgeous piece, too, and one that goes a long way to showing exactly what the talented community in Singapore can do to these public spaces if they are given the opportunity to do something with their own vigour.
The RSCLS tunnel at Elgin Bridge however isnt the only one, there are several others – I only had a chance to check out one or two more … one that I did like, however, was a duo team – I’m pretty sure by the name of Starry Eyed Dreamers.
Though the larger images were pretty cool, it was the small, tiny pasteups that were found dispersed across the wall that really piqued m interest. They *almost* seemed out of place, but were arranged in different areas of the overall work in some form of thoughtful manner, sitting and resting on edges and disused spaces. This shit was really fun quirkily cool.
At the moment, one of the big issues in Singapore is a report that by 2030 there will be 7 million people in the country – too many, Singaporeans say, and couple that with the estimate that the population could be “half foreign” by that time .. well. Public amenities such as healthcare are being stretched, public transport is heavily crowded, things are getting even more expensive – they know they already pay a hefty, insanely expensive cost of living, but they do so willingly, for the quality of life that the meritocratic government provides – and damn, but its a good quality of life. For many, however, that quality of life seems to be slipping, and they wonder exactly what it is that they are paying out of the ass for, especially given the most recent population projections, and the issues that such a large increase will bring.
At the same time, however, the government is starting to pump money into “the arts” – but it all feels a little contrived, from my outside point of view. Everything is curated, there are laws, regulations and permits required for any kind of public work of art (remember, this is a country where, technically, it is also illegal to gather in groups of more than 8 without a permit, apparently).
After checking out the Riverwalk area, I headed down to a small skatepark next to Summerset MRT station. I don’t know the legality of painting here, but it seems as if people paint here anyways. There were a bunch of pieces up – it was also one of the only places in the city that I actually saw stickers, thank fuck!
I especially loved this “wrapup” of a piece on gladwrap – it was good to see the artists in SG being innovative and making their own spaces!
From the skatepark, I walked over to the National Youth council building, which I had heard was a “legal” place to paint … but, again, with a catch. It seems as if even spaces that area actually able to be “legally” painted suffer from the authoritarian curatorial control, with a sign up telling artists that if they wish to paint, that they can feel free to send in a submission to see if they can be allowed to paint there. Somehow, I don’t think that a top rated street artist such as Lush would ever get permission to do something …
That said, it was another space in the inner city that I actually saw the potential of the Singapore street art scene. Artists of all skill levels seems to have painted there, and it really looked as if the Youth Council was trying to be a bit open minded as to what went up – from characters to pieces. Still, obviously as a Youth Arts space the calibre was wildly varied, but it was great to see. I have also been told that this space is becoming harder to paint at, instead of easier – I don’t know, I didn’t really have time in Singapore (given that Id been laid out sick for several days) to find out, damnit.
Next time, I’ll see how easy or hard it is to get a spot to paint there, and what kind of curatorial controls they actually have in place.
Both of these areas are great spots in Singapore to check out street art – they are very, very central, and though there isn’t too much there, it does look as if it is a fairly active area.
I also happened to come across a small cafe down in the bowls of Far East Plaza that I really thought was cool – with work by ANTZ, DEM and Clogtwo amongst others. I couldn’t get the greatest shots, but its worth the visit if you are in the city to take a look at it!
Most of the galleries that I went to in my stay were full of the same kind of imagery that gives me the jeebies in Australia. Boring, overplayed iconic landscapes, portraits or stuff that gives the word “contemporary” a foul taste in my mouth. Of course, then there is the Asiatic influence – and a heavy dose of mainland styled work. Not having been exposed to a lot of this form of art, including the pop-surrealism works that have some prevalence, it was all rather intriguing – but again, it still felt quite sedate. There is one, however, that I loved – Kult Gallery – which I’ll cover in another editorial post as I managed to get a great interview with the man behind it all.
Perhaps, instead of just putting money towards the arts in a curatorial fashion, the nation of Singapore needs to try a new tact – and maybe just loosen up a little. Let the artists have a bit more control over what they want to do, rather than what the state will or will not let them do. Give them more spaces to express themselves – there are plenty of walls across the city that could use a lick of colour; and there are insanely talented artists there who would be more than willing to fill them.
Money helps, without a doubt, but you can’t buy culture – and in my short stay there, as you can see, has proven to me beyond a doubt that there is a vibrant merging underground art scene that could quite possibly be the saviour of the arts in Singapore, and create the true artistic culture that the government desires.
I have to admit, for all my somewhat critical viewpoint (it’s not my city, after all, and I really have only scratched the surface and don’t really know all that much about it) – I truly fkn love Singapore. If you love art, then its there for you to see, its not a wasteland by any measure, you just have to dig a little deeper for the beating heart of it all. Its my firm opinion that Singapore could well become a truly regional hub for creative culture in SE Asia.
Its not just me that thinks this – I recently read an article by Sheele Savenada over at Yahoo Entertainment (I know, I know) who wrote an article on the after effects of Sticker Ladys arrest (who, thankfully, was only recently found guilty of mischief, not vandalism), and the state of Singaporean underground art – she summed it up quite eloquently by saying
“The dichotomy that exists [in Singaporean art} seems to be tied to bringing a sense of balance to art forms that are viewed as being on the fringes of the art world, and do not have the support or acceptance that more traditional forms garner. But for the arts scene to flourish truly, then perhaps the dampers need to come off so that obstacles aren't quite so insurmountable for those who express themselves through street art."
I agree with this wholeheartedly - this has been a two part article, and I know that when I return to Singapore that I'll be writing even more about it. Being a street artist in Singapore seems like it is a hard thing, but I definitely think that all of the artists hard work will be rewarded in the future. Everything is there for it to really blow up in Singapore, truly, it just needs to be given a little breathing room.
Check out a shitload of the photos I got of the Riverwalk, as well as the Skateparks and Graffiti Cafe below!! As you can see, there's a fair bit there ....
Ok. So I’m a bit behind on this one. DOES is having a show in April called Endless Perspectives. DOES’ work is some of my favourite graff of late. Super tight, amazing colour schemes and some of the cleanest lines around. Can’t wait for the show!!
From the press release: “Just Another and Does are thrilled to present ‘Endless Perspectives’ – a new body of work aiming to capture graffiti’s transient nature. He displays his journey both as an artist and a person through forty canvasses centred around five cities close to his heart. A series of films by Stephan Polman accompanies the artworks, allowing you to join him on this pilgrimage around the world seeking creative enlightenment.
The five cities – Amsterdam, Basel, London, Paris and Melbourne – have acted as creative refuges for Does, who felt the need to escape his hometown to cultivate his craft. A former professional soccer player who has spent much of his life in the Dutch limelight, travelling has not only been an inspiration to Does, but also an escape. Each set of canvasses contains a distinct colour combination that was chosen based on the predominant colours Does came across during his travels in that city.
‘Endless Perspectives’ signifies the infinite interpretations and unlimited ways in which art and experiences can be perceived. During the journey that led to the work exhibited, Does’s outlook evolved continuously. Events that at first glance appeared to be hurdles became unsought opportunities and vice versa – it’s all just a matter of perspective: the viewers’ included.
Using his infamously meticulous letters, Does portrays the multifaceted aspects of his artwork and the inspiration surrounding him. A love letter to both cities and styles, ‘Endless Perspectives’ leaves you looking a little closer at the world around you.”
He’s also produced a couple of videos as part of a series leading up to the show. Here’s the first two.
What: Endless Perspectives
Where: 48 Easey St, Collingwood.
When: Opening Friday April 5th from 6-10pm and runs until the 17th of April.
The other night I was home reading blogs, when my good friend Thomas Spiteri messaged me… “Dude… Vhils is in Australia!! He’s in Sydney” he said. If he’d been speaking I know he would have been screaming, I could tell he was excited, and shit so was I! I immediately started googling and found out where he was going to be and quickly emailed the gallery.
Vhils needs no introduction. If you don’t know him or his work, you should, so google it. Here’s the interview. Because of the heads up Thomas gave me I let invited him to ask a couple of the questions. Here’s what Vhils had to say!
Vhils Rio De Janeiro 2012 – Photo by Joao Moreira
Vhils in Shanghai 2012 – Photo by Joao Moreira
LM: What does your name mean?
Vhils: Vhils is just a name I came up with when I was writing graffiti. It has no meaning, it was purely chosen for the letters, which were some of my favourite to write. Like most other writers I went through a few tags before I settled on this one and when I began showcasing my work in exhibitions and galleries I decided to use it alongside my real name.
LM: What tools do you use to make your amazing chiseled sculptures?
Vhils: For walls I use spray paint and ordinary paint for the rough sketch I trace, then hammers, chisels and Makita drills to carve the pieces. For other media, like wood, I use a Dremel rotary tool and chisels. The billboards are cut with a cutting knife and the metal plates are engraved and corroded by acid and then are exposed to the elements to blur the image and gain some rust, etc.
LM: How do you select the characters for your walls? Do they have any meaning behind them?
Vhils: When I first started out, I would use images I cut out from magazines and newspapers, but today I mostly use photographs me or someone from my team have taken in the streets of the place we’re working in. The great majority of these are of ordinary, unknown citizens. This was always my objective, to work with unknown people, to somehow empower them. The idea is to contrast regular people with the over-photoshopped, over-glamourised images presented by advertising, to question the idea of these modern icons and render the city space more humanised in some way, but with real people. In some projects the people portrayed have a strong connection with the place the piece was carved in, like the inhabitants of the Morro da Providência slum in Rio, whose houses had been pulled down in a major urban renewal project the local government is undertaking with huge consequences for the community. These were carved in what remained of their old homes, so the connection here is deeply emotional.
TS: We see your mesmerising murals appearing all over the world. Does the culture of each country play a big part in the inspiration behind each artwork?
Vhils: Yes it does, even when it’s not immediately apparent. The process and tools are essentially the same, and the conceptual approach likewise, but there is always a connection with the place I’m working in at the time – from the general feeling the city or location give me, to local colours and materials. The people portrayed are mostly local as I stated above, and in most cases this is the most direct connection with the place.
TS: Can you tell us a bit about your transition from the typical street art/graffiti tools to what you are using recently?
Vhils: Most of what I’m doing today actually stems from my graffiti days. This includes some of the tools but also some of the ideas behind my work. I’ve always liked working with abrasive tools and materials, and this comes from the more extreme side of graffiti, from carving tags out with cutters and etching acid, for example. Most people think of spray paint when thinking of graffiti, but for a writer anything that helps get your name up does the job, whether it’s scratching it into a surface with a spark plug or corroding it with acid, brake fluid, acetone, etc. When I first started working with stencils I was just doing the ordinary thing, creating images and giving them depth and contrast by superimposing different layers. The idea of reversing this process – to create images by cutting into surfaces and removing layers – came as I began using old billboard posters which in Portugal are commonly pasted over each other and create these thick amalgamations, which I started cutting into to create compositions. I also realised I could blend this process with the notion of creative vandalism I used to follow when I was doing more hard-core graffiti. One thing led to another and I moved on to walls, where I began using power tools to carve pieces. The basic concept is still the same, though: using destructive means in order to create. I’m always on the lookout for interesting tools and processes.
LM: Where’s your favourite place that you’ve painted/worked?
Vhils: I always feel unable to give a straight answer to this question! I’ve enjoyed working in so many places, cities and countries, and in so many different circumstances, that it becomes very hard to chose one as my all-time favourite. The projects I worked on in Shanghai and Rio de Janeiro last year were very special, both due to the circumstances and the time my team and I spent there (2 months in China and 1 month in Brazil), but I’ve enjoyed all the others just as much. I’m really enjoying working in Sydney at the moment!
LM: Where do you work from and what is your studio space like?
Vhils: As I’ve been spending a lot of time on the road, travelling between places, I do a lot of the planning and digital work in many odd places, including on trains, airport lounges, etc. In the case of Sydney, for instance I already had a few things and ideas organised before I arrived here, but the main physical work was done here in the place where the exhibition is to take place. I’ve just recently finished setting up a new studio in Lisbon though, and that’s where I’m planning on doing most of the work from now on. It used to be an old car repair workshop and has lots of space and even a goods lift to carry materials and pieces to the basement where these can be stored. It still needs a bit of work, though, but we’ll get there.
LM: What has been the highlight (or highlights) of your career to date?
Vhils: First of all to realise that people like my work and are interested in what I’m doing – this is hugely rewarding in itself. And then the opportunity this path has given me to travel around the world and connect with so many different people and different cultures, being able to see what we share in common and also what makes us different and just being able to experience it in person. I have learnt a lot over the last few years.
TS: Who and what inspires Vhils?
Vhils: Many things and many people have inspired me throughout the years. I always find it difficult to be precise, as I am often impressed or inspired by things that seem trivial at the time, or things I’m not even consciously aware of. I’m very interested in history and cities and landscapes and travelling and different cultures and music and films and too many other things to mention. I like the feeling of being a stranger in a city and just watching how things unfold, how people live and behave and react, how things work or don’t work, how things are organised and done. I like the chaos of the urban environment and the different contrasts the city offers.
TS: Can you tell us a bit about the process of your street murals?
Vhils: In basic terms, I start out by working on different elements in my sketchbook and then I digitise these and work them on the computer. I usually divide images into three colours to give the image some depth – this is basically like working on a stencil. I then either project these onto the wall and paint them, or paint them directly, depending on the complexity and the scale. I use black and shades of grey, then mark out the negative spaces in the portrait. I use regular paint, then spray paint, then a brush. Then with the help of my team, we start the carving process, using chisels, hammers and drills. For the larger pieces we also use a scissor lift or elevated platform.
TS: Tell us a bit about the earlier years of Vhils, What was the street art/graffiti scene like in Portugal growing up and how did you become the artist you are today?
Vhils: I got into graffiti when I was about 10 years old, and then took it up seriously when I was thirteen. At first it was just tagging on the way to school and so on, then it became an obsession and I began skipping school to go bomb trains. I lived close to one of Lisbon’s main suburban lines and for a few years that became my world: bombing, studying the yards, planning missions on my own or hooking up with other writers. Then I joined the 2S/3D and LEG crews and started venturing out further afield – painting trains in other lines around Lisbon, then the rest of Portugal and finally travelling around Europe just to paint trains. Although I’m still into train writing and bombing, I’ve always been interested in trying out new things and experimenting with new tools and materials. The scene in Lisbon back then was mostly focused on bombing with a few good writers also doing walls and hall of fame. There were a few other people who had been doing stencils and other stuff for years but it wasn’t so popular and then sometime around 2003 the street art thing exploded and people started getting into it, influenced by what was taking place in Barcelona, which is not so far. I learnt later that there had been a thriving stencil scene in Lisbon in the mid 1980s, influenced by the Paris wave, but this had died out before my time. Graffiti had also started in the late 1980s, and boomed around 1997. Around 2003/2004 I began experimenting with stencils, paste ups and stickers. I immediately became aware of the stencil’s potential. It allowed me to focus on the conceptual side at home, then simply focus on painting while in the street. It also enabled me to explore other imagery and create other types of work. I also realised the results were much more accessible to ordinary people and I became interested in exploring this line of communication. Things just evolved naturally from there. I also became interested in exhibiting my work and started organising a few amateurish shows with friends, and this eventually led to the creation of the Visual Street Performance in 2004/05, which became an annual collective show (held until 2009) and the biggest graffiti/street art show in Portugal to date. In 2006 I was invited to join the Vera Cortês Art Agency, one of Lisbon’s leading art galleries which was a great break for me, and the following year I moved to London to study at Central St Martins and things just picked up from there.
LM: If you had to give one bit of advice to a street artist starting out, what would it be?
Vhils: This is always tough to answer, as people and the circumstances in which they live and work are very different. I think if people are both serious and passionate about their work they will keep at it regardless of the setbacks. So if you believe in what you do and think you have it, persevere. I also think it’s important for people to realise that street art is what you do in the street – non commissioned, unauthorised work – there is no pay-off but personal gratification and that’s the way it should be. Don’t start putting up work in the street because you’re looking to get signed up by a gallery. Gallery work is another kettle of fish altogether. And so is public art, which is mainly what we’re doing nowadays with these festivals and commissioned pieces. I’m fortunate to work in all these settings, but I still also put up work in the street, illegally, and still feel there is nothing like it. So, above all, just enjoy it.
LM: We’re excited about your show Dissolve, What do you have planned for the rest of 2013?
Vhils: Thanks, so am I. After Sydney I’ll be travelling over to Fremantle in Western Australia to do a few walls. After that I fly out to Puerto Rico to work on some more walls, and then down to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, where I will have a solo show in April and will publish a book on the project I did there last year in Morro da Providência, one of the city’s oldest slums. After that it’s back to Lisbon for a short while to start working on several other projects. Fortunately there’s no lack of interesting projects, and I’ve got plenty to keep me busy well into next year.
Vhils has a show opening tomorrow night in Sydney tomorrow night. See my next post.
I mean, seriously, Gent. How the world contrived so that I was on the other side of the globe when this exhibition was on, I will never know – but since coming over to Melbourne from the UK, Gents work has been high on my radar of cool shit and this show looks like it hit the nail right on the head in terms of all that.
This newly minted SDM crew member put on what looks like a mad show, and if you got yourself a piece then I’m even more jealous – hopefully he’ll still be around so I can get something for myself when I get home!
Check out all the shots below from our photographical adventurer, David Russell. Fantastic shit.
We had news last week that one of Indonesias top street artists, Darbotz, will be heading down to Melbourne to have a solo show later this month. We’ve seen a bit of Darbotz work before, but we’re even more excited after having followed up on it all, and got a bit more info on the show from the guys at MiFA Asian Pacific Contemporary Art. This is going to be one rad show. Read on, and check it all out …
“Darbotz, one of Indonesia’s most loved graffiti artists will be presenting his first solo exhibition of street art in Melbourne. He is fast becoming one of the Asia Pacific’s most prolific street artists, and his growing reputation is brewing in the Melbourne street art scene.
Darbotz is an artist based in Jakarta, a complicated, hectic city drowning in colours and chaos. He tries to rescue the dirty streets of Jakarta by transforming walls with captivating images of his squid monster and hybrid squid King Kong monster.
The works from Monster Inside Us bring the streets of Jakarta into the gallery. Each piece shows how disturbances in the city and modern conveniences can create a monster within us.
He describes the brick wall as a ‘silent witness in every city’ as it is transformed by each person who decides to change it. Whether it is with posters and paint, or new construction and demolition. The wall becomes part-monster contributing to the chaos of a modern city, and yet, part-story teller, changing the stories on its surface over time.”
Take a look at a few more images of Darbotz work and skip down to the details of the show below!
Who: Darbotz What: Monster Inside Us solo show Where: MiFA Asian Pacific Contemporary Art, Level 1, 278 Collins Street, Melbourne Victoria, Australia. When: Show opens 28th March 2013 – 3rd May 2013. Hours Wednesday to Friday 10 to 5.30pm Sat 2- 6pm. Or by appointment
After the hectic bustle of Kuala Lumpur and an overeating dose of food for Chinese New Year, I headed back to Singapore. My first few days there were, yep, full of eating, and getting back to do some proper exploring was pretty exciting. In all my previous wanderings, I just hadn’t seen any signs of graff or street art. Not a single piece, or tag …
I mean, I didn’t see anything. It was so clean, so tidy and so manicured that I was a little despondent – I’d been told by so many people that if I wanted to see street art, then I was pretty fucked in Singapore.
Late last year I’d also read some news over at BSA that a Singaporean street artist, known only as “sticker Lady”, who had put up some really fkn cool stickers across the city on pedestrian crossing buttons, was facing a hefty dose of potential jail time and/or the cane for doing so. Thankfully, as far as I know, that didn’t eventuate and from all reports the legal system went quite easy on her – but it didn’t really fill me full of much optimism for any potential visit there.
Then, not too long before I left, I saw a piece in Melbournes Blender Laneway by two Singaporean artists, Ink & Clog – and I fkn loved it. I ended up interviewing them for the first issue of our upcoming print magazine, Damn It! (you’ll have to buy a copy when its out later this month to read it, but its a good one!) and my feelings on the place started to shift – here were two amazingly talented artists who were really making some headway with their art in a place reminiscent to Australia back in its zero tolerance, culturally wastelanded 90s period.
I kept in contact with Ink & Clog, and, a week after I arrived back from KL (Id been practically bed ridden when I got back) they invited me out to visit for the afternoon. Thats when discovered Sultans Gate – and my faith began to be restored.
After arriving in Sultans Gate (thankfully the bus took me right there, and I didn’t have to wander around wondering where the fuck I was) I walked down the street, and, almost as soon as I looked I saw something that had been missing from all my glances around Singapore – tags. You have no idea how much even seeing one tag restored my faith – here it was, visible proof that there really was something cool going on in Singapore.
Wandering down the road, I bumped into Ink & Clog heading to go and grab some food, so after a few bites they took me on a quick tour of the somewhat more artistic side of Singapore.
Our first stop was Blackbook – run by Slac Satu and crew. This is the place you go to get your paint, people. They had a good range, too, mostly the local paint – Zenith which was pretty damn affordable and much cheaper than anything we get in Australia. I didn’t try it out, but the colours looked good and I was assured it was pretty decent.
Blackbook being an artist run shop, it didn’t stop at the paint supply – it also has a whole bunch of art from Slac and others adorning the walls, so if you want to pick yourself up some pretty mad art direct from the source, it’s all there for you to see on the walls.
Blackbook used to have a big wall erected that they could paint on that ran behind the shop – I’m not sure if they were asked to take it down or whatever, but it wasn’t present when I visited. I was told that they wanted to erect it again and I hope they do – given that there are almost fuck all places for people to paint with any freedom in Singapore (more on that in part 2 of this article!), I reckon anything is better than nothing. As it stands, they did have a whole bunch of boards about the place that had been painted on – and they all rocked.
I highly recommend visiting these guys when you’re in Singapore – its around the back from Ink & Clog and Bein Store.
Oh yeah, and their cats were all pretty cool. Cats rule (sorry Lukey!).
We then stopped in at a really cool store right next door to Ink & Clogs studios – Bein Store. I loved this place, not only did it have some amazingly cool threads and other locally made products (the freakin watches there were mad), but it was packed full of sweet art as well.
One of the high lights of also checking out Bein was getting to see a bunch of the Hell Lotus custom toys on the shelves.
I’d heard of the “Hell Lotus works that Clog had done, and I remember a passage he said in the interview I did with him for Damn It! that didn’t make it into the piece -
“The Hell Lotus was initially inspired by a trip to Hong Kong in 2011 together with ANTZ, ZERO and Neo,” Clog explained in the interview answers he sent through to me for the Damn It! interview.
“We visited the giant sitting Buddha at a mountain tops. I was so blown away that I made a sketch of it in my black book. It was an illustration of sitting Buddha with his head splitting open, revealing a skull, encapsulated in it. Signifying that in us, there’s God, and in God, there’s us. When I got back to Singapore, I was approached by Mighty Jaxx to design a toy for them and the splitting Buddha head illustration caught their eyes. A few changes were made soon after due to religion sensitivity, and was adjusted accordingly to remain the same ideology but yet subtle.
The design of the Hell Lotus got thrown back and forth to make sure that design are firmed, and the prototyped was also checked that the artists impression of the Hell Lotus was perfectly done for the buyers. That was the most important stage for me, making sure that people receive what I received in my head.”
So, having already been worded up on these pieces, seeing them in the flesh was pretty rad. The guys at Bein were welcoming and friendly, and looked pretty proud of their space – and the should be, there’s not much like it in Singapore and we hope to see them do great things in the future.
We then made our way next door to Ink & Clogs new studios that they’ve recently set up – inside, was a veritable treasure trove of cool shit. Paintings, toys, materials and all the things needed to create amazing work – and there certainly was a lot of that around.
Having had a chance to peruse a bunch of their work, I was pretty well left just wanting to buy a whole bunch of it – alas, canvases and backpacks are not really the greatest of travelling companions, but I now have my heart set on getting something for my walls in future!
Of course, there was the obligatory stickered out fridge in their studios as well – with a couple of pretty recongisable additions to it!
I didn’t have a hell of a lot of time to hang out, unfortunately, so just before I left they gave me the only kind of gift an artist really loves a piece in my blackbook. I can’t thank them enough for this, I absolutely love it – and what impressed me also was just how quickly they did it together. This is a well oiled artistic duo, and in under ten minutes they were done and dusted with this gem.
My quick visit to Sultans Gate gave me a real sense of an underground artistic community amongst the high octane, business driven world of Singapore. Fortunately, I can now say for a fact that all those people who said that there isn’t anything worth seeing in the Singaporean underground arts scene were wrong. It may not be everywhere and all over the place like in Melbourne, but its most definitely there.
In the next part of this article, I’ll cover a lot more of the actual art I saw up on the walls, my feelings on the overall “scene” and “artistic culture” of Singapore, as well as a place that is doing some pretty cool shit in Singapore that I’m sure you’ll all love – Kult Gallery.
Until then, check out the rest of the pics I got from around Sultans Gate, Blackbook, Bein and Ink & Clog Studios.
Invurt webzine provides information on AustralAsian street, urban, illustrative, graffiti and other genre defying, nu-contemporary art to readers around the world. It specialises in events and artists who are working, displaying and visiting Australasia – particularly with a focus on exhibitions, live art and other events the artists are partaking in.