Melbourne street art, where to start? Part 2
What magic we humans conjure up every day. Yes, we make and eat food, go to big termite mounds in our cities to sit in front of a flickering piece of electronica every day, some of us get to walk around outside or drive from one place to another in a big piece of mobilised metal, and return to our smaller termite huts for the end of the day to eat more food, watch another flickering electronic device and then go unconscious in a purpose built nest for 8 hours every day. Some humans though, manage to find time to get hold of some ground up plant material, or its synthetic form, mix it with water and smear it all over a wall. And some humans get exceedingly good at this, to the point where other people fall in love with their creations. We have so absolutely fallen in love with some of the paintings we see around our Collingwood home, and here are some more of our favourites:
Did you like that surreal philosophical start to Part 2? Then you’ll love Kaff-eine’s weird and wonderful creatures. Spindly limbed, often hoofed, deer skulled and melancholy looking, Kaff-eine’s human-animal hybrids inspire a timid sadness of a less-than-perfect magical world. She collaborated on the Heartcore book, creating 20 murals interpreting stories from vulnerable children, one of which is the header for this post. You can find this specific piece in Northcote’s All Nations Park, and all other 19 murals around Melbourne. Kaff-eine has worked all over the world, and her newest portrait series in Manila is incredible.
See more of her work @kaffeinepaints
Hyper-reality is probably what sums up Smug’s distinct style for us. His portraits are huge, sometimes spanning a few buildings and stories, and central to his murals are expressive faces with just the right amount of madness in their eyes. From the fish sandwich guzzling guy on Johnston Street to the woman lying sideways in hysterics being tickles by playful otters on Otter Street to his own dignified looking grandparents at the far end of the CBD’s Lonsdale Street, a humanity shines through his portraits that is simply captivating.
See more of his work @smugone
One of the absolute highlights of Melbourne’s annual White Night festival has undoubtedly been Sofles’ Graffiti Mapped mural at the north end of the CBD. Now a massive building site, the 10m high and 30m wide black & white mural of a cartoon-like sensual woman came to life with colourful projection overlays running on 7 minute loops. Sofles paints in rich and vibrant colours, often portraits of women who seem to embody cyber-heaven like characteristics. Sofles was also involved one of the coolest art films ever made, trust us, google “Sofles – Limitless”, sit back and enjoy.
See more of his work @sofles
We first spotted Belgian artist Roa back in Shoreditch, London, when we frequently walked past his enormous black and white animal paintings. “It’s cool someone’s painting rats and squirrels and stalks” we thought. It turns out, this is kind of Roa’s thing, as he loves looking up local animals and bringing them into the urban landscape. So when we saw Roa’s work in Perth (home to Form, who are big on commissioning street artists in WA – check them out!), it was bandicoots and brown snakes winking at us from the walls. When you’re in town, see if you can catch one of his exhibitions at the Backwoods Gallery, they’re well worth a gander.
See more of his work, keep your eyes peeled as he’s not on Instagram
Twoone first stood out to us as the artist who drew skulls over other people’s portraits. In collaboration with Adnate, the pair painted a 4 story tall woman in blue with the delicate outlines of a huge bird skull over her face. Originally from Japan and Melbourne, Twoone now lives and works in Berlin. You can still find a lot of his mythical paitings around the city, and for a special treat, check out the cat portrait lightbox at Neko Neko on the corner of Gertrude and Smith Street.
See more of his work @t_w_o_o_n_e
There are of course countless other incredible artists working in this beautiful city of ours, and we are finding new murals all the time. It is the consistency in style and personal taste that made us admire the above 10 artists again and again, until we started actively following their work. It is at this point important to acknowledge that a lot of our most loved street artists were able to develop their talent precisely because they didn’t play by the rules of ‘traditional’ art curation. Many started off tagging, then honed their spray painting skills into more complex, multi-layer pieces, then developed on to other subjects, often despite the environment they lived and worked in.
Having to be accepted by a gallery or fill in endless paperwork to then be amongst the chosen few to be ‘allowed’ to develop your craft would have stifled great talent in its tender beginnings. We should celebrate artists who paint for the sake of it, for the public to see without having to pay an entry fee or be part of some institute’s closed circle. And no one starts off capable of creating jaw dropping work, so let’s cultivate enthusiasm when we see it, and encourage artistic development, so we can in future enjoy even more world class, democratised art on our streets.