As a Northern Beaches chick, I guess I can understand their “oh” moment when people ask where I take my photos (the majority being Sydney’s Inner West). Catching public transport is actually a really nice way to start and end my treasure hunts. A quick jump on the ferry, short walk to the train station, then while travelling on the train (getting frustrated at seeing some art on placed that could only be photographed if one was to stand smack bang in the middle of a track area!) some internal dialogue about where to alight and all the while planning a certain route to walk.
Given this is my first article it needs to laid out from the get go when I say “walk” it usually entails 4 hours of meandering the streets, getting lost, getting found and ensuring I can always hear a main road or some form of public transport if venturing into new territories, as my sense of direction is notoriously bad. Ask me where a certain wall or installation is? No problemo! Ask me the name of the lanes or streets: can prove difficult!
Thus it was one of these “new territories” that I looked up (being on the hunt requires much swivelling of head, eyeballs, walking up one side of a street or lane way and then back down the other just to ensure nothing has been missed) and spied a paste-up that while at the time was difficult to see (only had small teeny weeny camera initially but as time progressed and the much beloved EOS110D came in to my life!) I was still pretty stoked at the eventual outcome.
Not really understanding what I was looking at, it became one of those “if you don’t capture it now it’ll be gone next time” moments.
Fast track Outpost 2011 and my instant love affair began resulting in about 10 visits but one of the first images captured was the most INCREDIBLE installation
but it wasn’t long after that I found the true mecca for past up. Paste Modernism 3
Can you give me a little bit of the history of Houl?
HOUL came about quite a bit after I got into street art. I had been putting up paste-ups and stickers without a name to them for a while before I ran into Ears at the first Paste-Modernism. He invited me to check out his new gallery “Oh Really” then asked if I wanted to show any work. I raced home, whipped up some shitty piece and when I got to the gallery with the piece, they needed an artist name and Houl was the first thing that i thought of. In hindsight it’s not the coolest name I could have chosen, but it could have been worse.
From commissions to street to vagabondness of beyond. Where do you find the most freedom or do you enjoy having restrictions if nothing else other than to have a moment of “structure” in a world which is surrounded by chaos
I find the most freedom exists when painting walls. The limitations imposed by the canvas are removed when painting big murals and you are able to make huge gestural movements, really putting yourself in to the work. Painting Canberra’s underpasses and drains drags my art-making from an internal process into something more external, not only with regards to location but also the way I think about work.
That said, there still exists and element of restriction no matter what you do, but painting walls seems to alleviate it the most.
Where, whom or what inspires you?
Where: the coast line of the city of R’lyeh
Whom: Tom Waits, Swerfk, Bafcat, SMC3, Arvz, The Dirt, Resan, OX, Mr Gawky and David Attenborough
What: Triple Cream Brie, Pizza Shapes and a knob of Hungarian Salami
It is known that scent and music are the most power evocators of memory. Due you draw some of your inspiration from memories or do you simply allow your creativity “flow” to take you where it may and with the end result being as much as a surprise to yourself as an artist and you as an individual?
There is no room for memory in art or the motion that comes attached
For some artist’s a work is never really “finished”. Do you feel at times you have to draw a line in the sand and if that is the case, how difficult a process emotionally and creatively can that be?
Know when to stop an artwork can be tough. There will always be that ‘one more thing’ you need to add, that extra line that will complete a piece. But as much as you think it will be, it’s never just ‘one more’. It can be frustrating working on something that you feel is SO close to being finished, but you can’t quite reach that perfect point.
I don’t even remember seeing my first Burg face – one second I had no idea who the fuck he was, the next it seemed like he had always been there. Suddenly, Burg was just a part of the landscape, his work morphed into the ever flowing world of Melbourne street art in such an intrinsic way that I was caught out. Surprised, even.
Sulking on corners, laneways and thoroughfares – staring out with impeded eyes and forlorn glances, a true face of the downtrodden – aged lines blurring into the heady youth of a young impressionistic attitude flowing with rough, barely concealed zeal. You know Burg when you see him – and trying to grasp onto the emotions on one of his works is an episode in frustration. Ambiguity is one of the most highly sought after expressions in any kind portraiture, that sudden "I don’t know what the fuck he’s thinking" in the viewers eye a most preferential outcome, and in this, Burg has excelled in this.
With a imminent move up to Byron Bay, we’re hoping that we don’t have to wait too long before we see more Burg faces pop up on the streets of Melbourne – in the meantime, read on and find out more about this grand up and coming artist hitting our streets …
Can you tell us how you first started out as an artist and how you first become interested in art?
I first started as an artist, that’s a tough one. it still a weird thought to think of my self as a artist, I guess it started when I saw one of my paste ups on "Melbourne street art" Facebook group as bad as that sounds, I always drew in my spare time but there was never really anybody who saw it until it was on a wall for everybody to see. I always loved my comics from a young age as well as the classic 90′s animations.
I always thought I was going to be a cartoonist but I never had the patience for it – I think my art now is constantly influenced by pop-cultures hatred of imperfection and mistakes.
I think that that’s what makes things interesting …
When was the first time you picked up a spray can? What lead you to painting on walls?
I think the 1st time I picked up a spray can was at a mates house party, its been trial and error since then. He was the person who first took me out pasting, that night we met "Start From Zero" – a crew from Japan. I guess what lead me to paint on walls was the "street cred" nobody who does paste ups really gets the same amount of respect as aerosol art, also its a hugely challenging as well as expressive.
I don’t think that anyone has picked up a can and been amazing at it, from my experience it takes a long time and a lot of $$$ to get it to where you’re satisfied, and to look the way want people to see your art.
Looking around you at all the art up on the walls around Melbourne, where do you feel that yourself and your art fit in to all of that? What have been some of the inspirations you have garnered from such a rich environment?
I kind of hope that my art doesn’t fit in with the others, i want my burg characters to stand out, but with the amount of diversity we have in Melbourne is one of the things that make it special. I’m inspired by the greats that have left their mark on Melbourne, like Phibs, Lister, Gent and Shida. On the other hand our local talent is endless – blokes like Conrad Bizjak, Hancock, JD, Eleven and the AWOL crew keep pushing the limits.
Its a curse and a blessing. It keeps you humble, no matter how good you think you are there is someone out there that is better.
What have been some of the more enjoyable aspects of working with spray paint, and what have been some of the more negative moments? Tell us about the trails and tribulations of working on walls …
Spray paint, its one of the more harder mediums i have used. I get less frustrated with oils. i think its one of those things that the more you work on it and the better you get at it your still not happy, thinking it could be better. i think that’s one of the real holds spray paint has on me, I can’t let it beat me! I have never been shown how to paint with a can, so every time I paint with it I learn something I didn’t know before.
Where did your form of style spring from? Do you have any formal illustration background, and what kind of identities within art do you believe your work most identifies with?
Hahaha, my style – its a hard thing to critique your own work! Well, I see my style as still changing but every artist is trying to refine there craft. It started out as just drawing cartoons with pencil, once I started using a marker i realized how to use every side of the marker to create thin and thick lines, after that it was just having fun using the freedom to experiment and enjoy doing the outline, the amount of times I have sketched out a design and when it came time to go over it with a marker or fine liner it turned out completely different because of a thick line here and a thin line there.
When it comes to formal teaching, I recently finished my Diploma in illustration at Preston – it was a huge influence on my work over the past year – learning and trying things you wouldn’t think about with out the right guidance. Its saved me from being a one trick pony.
One of your characters, what I think of as "the wrinkled dude" is immediately recognisable, and almost a Burg trademark – can you tell us a bit about the evolution of this character and where he came from? I mean, what exactly is a Burg anyways?
Burg faces actually started out as mistake – from frustration.
I remember trying to draw this character that I thought was cool but I couldn’t get it right. I had only a few hours before my mate came over and we went out pasting, and as I started to get a bit angry, I took my frustration out on a scrap piece of paper – after that, I felt better so I got back to my original drawing.
Those hours passed, and my mate rocked up ready to paste. I started to pack up the drawings i was going to take out and he asked why I wasn’t taking that one? I thought it was just a shit scribble, but he made me take it – and that’s how the first Burg was spawned. Since then, I’ve drawn him that much that it doesn’t look the same – but he still carries the feeling of a reject, with all his imperfections and ugliness.
You just recently had an exhibition at The Vic – what lead you to wanting to put on the show?
I did – I met the guy who runs it about a year ago through a friend. He had been asking me to put some stuff up for a while, he asked me again about end of March. At that point I had decided to move up to Byron Bay and had started to save for that. I needed money, and the challenge of having a solo exhibition with a month to prepare was something that felt like it was worth it.
Can you tell us a bit about how you felt once the exhibition opening itself was over? What was the feedback and reaction to the work – and what would you have changed about the experience, or alter for the next time?
Once the exhibition was over it felt great – before hand I was shitting my self. I polished off a bottle of wine before I had even rocked up (and then some).
I had a great response from everybody i talked to. It was one of the more surreal moments I have had – I understand now why people go through all that hair pulling and sleepless nights for that moment of feeling alone – I think I had a permanent smile on my face for about two weeks.
I know that next time, I’ll give my self some more time – have a few extra little things like business cards, stickers and some prints.
What are your next plans, and what do you hope to do for the rest of the year, and the next? What projects are on the horizon that you want to get involved in?
The next 12 months are looking pretty exciting – I’m moving up to Byron bay for a little bit, got a little bit of illustration and film work up.
I have started to paint for my next exhibition as well as a few other group shows in Byron bay as well as another down in Melbourne at the end of the year. at this point I’m looking pretty busy which is always a good thing. so keep an eye out for burg over the next few months.
Right now, travelling through Eastern Europe, Mexico and Central America seems a world away – with so much heavy travel, I’ve been a bit behind on my travel blogs, but I have some downtime here in Lithuania so I’m going to try and do a bit of catch up.
After a couple of days (and food poisoning) in Mexico City (DF) I headed down to the city of Xalapa in Mexico to check out some street art. Xalapa (or Jalapa as its also known) isn’t really hugely on the "tourist route", and every time I told someone at the hostel I was heading down to Xalapa they’d say "where?" – but it does have one thing that makes it pretty important – it is one of the main University towns in Mexico. Therefore, there are a lot of students in the city – which makes Xalapa street art central!
When I arrived in Xalapa, I was greeted by local artist Obake – who graciously offered to show me around the city to spot the sites.
After a good dose of Mexican coffee, we started wandering the streets of Xalapa, spotting all kinds of cool work around the place. Obake showed me some of her favourite spots, and some of the work that she’d put up.
We then wandered down to a small store in the backstreets to meet a good friend of Obake, Mister Trauma. This shop, Trauma Studios (located at Belisario Domínguez 55) is a must-see if you are visiting Xalapa. Stickers, magazine, and artwork adorn the walls, and its great to see such an independent shop getting work out there and promoting the local artists.
Communicating with my absolutely shitty non-existent Spanish, Mister then asked if I wanted to go out and have a quick paint – well, I’m always up for a paint, and though completely unprepared we headed off to find a cab to head to the outskirts of the city and a wall that had out there. I wasn’t entirely sure at the time what the fuck was happening – you know, spontaneously jumping into a cab with complete strangers to go to the outskirts of a town in Veracruz, Mexico – but it was fkn cool fun.
A couple of Mister and Obakes friends showed up at the wall, and as late as it was and with the sun setting, we painted until late into the night – sipping on beautiful bottles of what was to become my favourite Mexican beer – Leon!
The next day, I took a walk through the central part of Xalapa, and got a bunch more shots. Walking up the main "market alleyway" – Callejón del Diamante (Diamond Alley). Sure, theres a lot of tourist shit up there, but I also spotted a bunch of independent artists selling artwork right on the street – one in particular grabbed my attention – ESV Mounstrotopia.
Not far up from where he was selling his art, I found another really cool shop that seemed to specialise in pushy toys of small monsters and the like – Marabunta Tienda, it was really pretty cool, and worth checking out for its range of independent toys and design laden stuff.
Later that night, we went off to grab a few beers and take a look around the city by night – lead in tow by Obake we did a good bit of paintspotting.
As I was planning on painting before leaving Xalapa, one question I had was "Where do I buy spraypaint in Xalapa?" – and Obake kindly advised me that there was a store up the top of Callejón del Diamante where I could get some. Though I didn’t see a name on it, it was to the right as you reached the top of the alley, in the corner – the front of the shop is actually filled with … well, Halloween shit and Hot Topic-esque bits and pieces, but behind all of that, on the counter, was a good deal of paint to be had. The only two brands I saw there were the usual Mexican brands – Arte Xpress and 360.
The next day, Obake and I headed down to where we were going to paint for the day – El Cafe De Nadie. I’d spotted this place a day before, with a huge and amazing Quetzalcoatl mural on the side of it. This was one of my favourite spots in Xalapa, a really cool cafe and place to hang out – great brownies!
Struggling a bit using the high pressure 360 paint (I haven’t used high pressure paint since my much younger bombing days) we knocked it all out and I was pretty happy with the whole thing – Obakes piece was, as always, very fkn cool.
After finishing up late in the evening, it was time to go and catch an overnight bus down to the Yucatan – stinking of paint and sweat, and more than a little chromed out, I made the bus in time and promptly passed out on the journey to my next destination …
Xalapa was my first real introduction to the street art scene in Mexico, and it was a fantastic stay. The artists in Xalapa are, as always, stuggling to get their work up in the face of government adversity, but they are really making a scene of it all. I wouldn’t be surprised if Xalapa turned into one of the real street art capitals of Mexico over the next few years, there’s certainly enough talent in the city to make it so. Big thanks to all the crew, especially Obake and Mister Trauma, for helping me out and showing me around whilst I was there.
Check out a whole bunch more photos below from my visit to Xalapa!
This post is something a little different to the norm. We ummm’ed and ahhhh’ed about the format for ages, should we transcribe it, should we make a video, should we edit it, should we chop it into smaller clips? We ended up deciding to just post it as is (with some work on the sound levels). It was such a special experience for us, it felt like we were watching a documentary.
To start off with, we have to thank Dean Sunshine. Dean took Futura on a street tour of Melbourne the day before. As you will hear, it was the best tour he’s done to date and he really loves Melbourne. He’s also a big fan of invurt which you’ll hear about too! Check out Dean’s photos from the day on his blog here.
We were called up for our turn, waiting in club 23 (which Hennessy had booked exclusively for Futura) at Crown.
It’s funny. We planned and planned this interview, and just before we sat down we heard Futura speaking to some other members of the press. He’s such a captivating speaker. Impromptu we decided we would just sit down and have a conversation with him. And while I had my list of questions handy, I didn’t have to ask one of them, Futura covered off basically every thing we wanted to ask.
It was possibly one of the most amazing conversations I’ve had with anyone from the scene, ever. I mean this man is a god father, he’s seen it all come and go and he’s still keeping it real.
We were also blessed to hear about the person behind the artist. We spoke intimately about his family and friends and some of his other passions; photography and exploring new cities.
Anyway, you’ll understand after listening! Kick back, grab a beer, have a listen and enjoy! Also check out the mad shots by David Russell below.
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!
For thousands of years, philosophers and mathematicians have been pondering the deepest intricacies of our lives – seeking the answers to mysteries that have plagued mankind since he first glanced up towards the stars. Foremost in these explorations, has been the desire to unlock one of the most enigmatic keys to the nature of our existence – the fundamental order attributed to our physical universe by the rules and laws governing the geometric form.
As an artist, Tom Vincent not only pays homage to these millennia of explorations, but further attempts to add to the vast amount of knowledge, theory and thinking that surrounds their inherent philosophical musings. By vigorously expanding both his knowledge and understanding of the many facets of geometric lines and shapes, yet never eschewing nor relying on their mathematical underpinnings, Tom breaths life into what is often an overplayed motif in contemporary art – the results of which are astonishingly beautiful.
Juxtapositions of intricate lines are enfolded within simplicity, shapes meandering between true and construed – all held together by an eager willingness to expound upon the colourful flow of spectrums to which each shape is attributed – it is, simply, art that entrances and beguiles you with its depth.
Tom is an artist who has designed, illustrated and painted walls with spatterings of aerosol across Melbourne, who has now come forth with a unique vision that sits apart from his youthful exuberances, and yet still maintains the trappings of "rebellion" that harken back to his formative years – for what is there more rebellious, than to try to challenge people to see the hidden beauty in the underpinnings of our existence, beauty to which we are, shamefully, all too often oblivious to?
I grabbed an interview with Tom on the eve of his show, Toroidal Fields, this coming Thursday at the Anna Pappas Gallery in Prahran – I hope that you enjoy it, and find yourself as enamoured of his work and artistic philosophies as I.
Tell us about how you first picked up a pen and brush and started doing art – when you were young, what first gave you a feel for being creative?
When I was young I was always drawing in my spare time, just doodling stuff. Then it sort of evolved into drawing stuff onto the bottom of my surfboards and skateboards. I began snowboarding a lot around the age of 13/14 and I was doing graffiti in my downtime and the summer.
A few years later, I ended up breaking some collarbones at a time when I had a lot of snowboarding ahead of me – doing graffiti was a release from the frustration of that happening. From there it pretty much sucked me in and I stopped the snowboarding.
You have an early history of having done a bit of graffiti around Melbourne – can you tell us a bit about it, and how you got into it? What made you want to get up and paint, and who, at the time, were influential in you starting out?
My first exposure to graffiti was when I saw Reset and Sirum painting in the lane way at the back of my house, it just sucked me in right from that moment. I watched them for probably 2 days and I immediately started to mess around with some sketches.
I kept seeing them when they would re-do the wall every 6 months or so and I would be out there watching and learning from them. I started to paint my first piece on our back wall in the lane way and they saw this and gave me a few pointers and showed me some tricks. I had some friends at school who were also into it at the time and we just started to paint. I used to get a lot of motivation from seeing all the really good pieces around and it just made me want to get better and paint more.
Have you done any sort of formal training in terms of art and design – what in the way of artistic education has contributed to your work today?
I haven’t had any formal training with art & design, instead I ended up sharing a studio with David Milne. David is a brilliant hard-edge painter and his technique is spot on. I was in that studio for about 3 years straight out of high school, I ended up living there for a period and it was just a constant barrage of art.
It was exactly what I needed to develop my work, I was completely sub-merged in it.
Tell us a bit about the studio spaces you’ve found yourself working in over the years – what, especially, do you believe that a studio space can contribute to an artists work, and what kind of activities do you usually find yourself conducting in the studio, beyond painting?
I’ve had my fair share of spaces over the few years and i believe it is important to have a work space that is comfortable for you, by that I mean a space that allows you to focus 100% on your work. But it is also good if there are like minded artists around that can give you some feedback on your work and to do some fun things along the way.
Often I find that it is a very fine line between being much too serious or far too relaxed. I guess in the best places that line is blurred and it allows you to maintain a steady work output whilst having a relaxed feel.
Tell us a bit about how you came to be exhibiting at Anna Papas gallery, and why you chose there for this most recent show?
Anna was kind enough and helped me out by showing me, she is a lovely person and I have a lot of respect for her gallery. I really enjoy the actual space that she has as well, and I had always dreamed of showing my work there. She has a really good stable of artists that span a variety of mediums and it was something that I wanted to be involved with.
In terms of the show – I know you’ve been working on it for some time now, and that you had a big bulk of it completed a while back, but what in the duration of putting it together changed in regards to what you were producing, and how did time help to shape the final product as it now stands?
In the beginning the work was changing quite rapidly. Initially I had it all planned out, but as the weeks went by the plans changed. The ideas remained the same, the actual images were changing. Then I just began painting – I decided that I had lost myself in the planning stages so I moved on. I felt the work should evolve organically so I allowed it to take its natural course.
Having the time allowed me to really step back from what I had made and connect the pieces more intricately. I have had the work finished for a month or so now so it has been quite a relaxing time in the lead up to this show, something I don’t think will happen every time.
Some would say that the work that you are doing now is a direct opposite to the earlier work you were doing with graffiti and design – well, I would! How have the two directions coalesced or did you make a conscious decision to move towards a more contemporary feel in your work, or did it just happen in an organic fashion?
The two different styles of work are vastly different. I can tell that the current work is coming from a different pattern of thought than when I was doing graffiti.
When I was in the very early stages of exploring geometry, I was still painting a lot of graffiti. It was always a conscious decision that I wanted to step away from graffiti on canvases, so when I had my first studio I would be painting inside, then I would also paint outside and they were two completely different things. I begun to slow down with graffiti and really focus on painting canvases with out even really thinking of graffiti.
I always had ideas that I couldn’t fit into the graffiti model, so to speak, and this other direction has really allowed me to pursue these ideas.
What is it about geometry that you find most alluring? Some would say that geometry can be a trap of rigidity, others find it the bare basics of the world around us, and yet others relish the mathematical of it – which of these most speaks to you, or doesn’t? What other ideals of geometry most excite you?
I am completely fascinated at how geometry has constructed the material world. Geometry might seem simple to many people, but there are still a lot of things we don’t understand about shapes.
There is a massive history with geometry dating all the way back to the ancient Egyptians and it is pretty obvious how good their understanding of geometry was. I do love the rigidity of geometry also, but exploring the boundaries of this notion is more interesting to me. I tend to stay away from the mathematical side of it, as this is not my forte, but I will still get the compass out and check the angles etc.
I am a big fan of Plato, Archimedes and the rest of the ancients – to me it is a wild notion that I am learning the same things they were.
You also have a pretty interesting development cycle when it comes to the colours that you use in your work – having seen some of your test pieces and a lot of your work in progress, you’re quite meticulous when it comes to colour placement – is it the technical side of colour variation and spectrum’s that fascinates you, or the sheer variety? What theories of colour do you most look to when utilising it in your work, if any?
I tend not to try and go by any theories with colour selection, I usually have a few colours I’m particularly interested in at a certain time.
Then, for me, its just a matter of exploring all the different variations of the select colours, seeing how they sit next to other colours and just feeling it out.
I tend to work through colours quite slowly, at first I might not even notice when a new colour starts emanating through my work but then I realise I am completely obsessed with it. I am constantly taking note of colours I see and it plays a big part in general life for me.
What do you hope comes out of this show, what is it that you are trying to say about Tom Vincent, the artist, with this work?
The ideal situation for me would be if everyone enjoys the work, they realise they know these shapes and begin to notice geometry in every aspect of life around them.
That is what I want out of art – to show people that these shapes are important, and that we don’t know enough about them. These shapes have been around us since this planet came into existence, and it remains the governing force in all of the planetary bodies we have found.
After this show, will you continue to investigate geometry in your work, or are there other facets of creativity that are piquing your curiosity? What’s in the future for Tom Vincent?
I will defiantly be continuing along this path, I don’t think I will ever be finished with geometry.
I have a few group shows in the pipelines for the end of the year, so I’m just working towards those and developing the work into a different aspect of this knowledge.
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 ....
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 was having a cigarette outside a gallery opening some years back when I spotted my first Will Coles piece. No, it wasn’t in the gallery itself – it was stuck up high on a bit of guttering, glued in place - I’d only noticed it as I’d been half drunkenly staring up into space. To be honest, at the time I had no idea what the fuck it was (some kind of concrete gun stuck to the wall?) but it piqued my interest enough to mention it to someone, who told me all about him, and therein began my love for his work …
Will Coles sculptural “street art installations” surreptitiously blend in with the cities surroundings. Often, unless you’re really looking for them, you just wont see them – and it is this subtlety to his work that makes me believe his work to be amongst some of the finest examples of Street art in the world.
Downpipes, awnings, concrete slabs – sometimes covertly place but very often, so overtly gifted to the street that one wonders if it is deliberately placed or just a “natural” part of the urban environment.
This is the inherent beauty behind his pieces – the harsh reality of our concrete laden world made manifest with attitudinal pisstaking and poetry, consumer goods laden with solidity and non-functioning precision – replicas of reality, twisted into new forms of surreal visages and repetitiously cast, often antagonistic urban icons.
We had the chance to shoot a few questions off to Will about his work just before his show, and what we got back was absolutely superb. You might notice that we’ve done this one a little differently – Will was a pretty busy dude the past few weeks, so he hand wrote out the answers to our interview questions. Given Wills raw expositions of his work out on the streets, we thought it only fitting to post this one up just as raw, and put it up exactly as he gave it to us!
Read on for a grand insight into the mans work! Click the images if you need a bigger version, or check out the PDFs of the pages below … many thanks Will, Melbourne definitely fucking loves you too.
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.