Capturing beauty has always been so challenging, however Australian artist RONE, whose work we have been following for years, does seem to respond to the challenge quite impressively. His recent wall for PowWowTaiwan, completed a few weeks back cements this better than anything.
We had the pleasure of meeting the artist in person during his short stay in London and here is art and beauty dissected in this rather lengthy interview with RONE...
Detail of RONE's wall for POWWOWTAIWAN.
Every artist has a starting point. My interest with the art form for example came from seeing a writing on a wall back home some 10 years ago, saying simply : ''An empty wall is an empty population'', which made me totally rethink my whole perception of art. What was your starting point, what got you into painting? Tell us a bit about the journey, what made RONE the well- known, full-time artist he is now?
RONE: For me it was skateboarding. It was a way to explore a city and a way to change the intend use of architecture in a city. I was always looking for new spots to skate and many of these were abandoned buildings or car parks. I started putting up skate related stencils in spots I would skate. Eventually, many of my friends stopped skateboarding and we were just going to these spaces to paint.
Shepard Fairey said once in an interview:
''There is something powerful about seeing art in public spaces that has a function other than just advertising that's selling a product''...In a way, this describes the different relationship artists have with the city, creating work on its surfaces to beautify it. Can you describe your relationship with Melbourne and its surfaces? What are the challenges to paint outdoors now, when street art defines the image of the contemporary urban cityscape?
RONE: It has changed over these 10 years. At first, I was just about getting up in the most seen locations, quantity over quality. Now, I am more focused on quality. Now my walls are so large that I feel a responsibility to a city to make something great. If I am going to force people to see this, I want it to be something I am proud of.
Some people struggle to accept the fact street art has a transitive nature and has already successfully occupied and progressed to the white gallery walls as well as urban surfaces. Do you think work shown in galleries do not resonate with people as much as the one on the streets? How do you feel about the street walls- gallery setting contrast?
RONE: The work of a 'street artist' in a gallery can never have the same presence it has on the street. That's why I think we love to work on the street. You will never get some old lady yelling at you while you hang a canvas in a gallery.
RONE's studio. All images, unless stated otherwise are courtesy of the artist.
Rose Dream, RONE, 2014, for his first UK solo show 'Wallflower'' at Stolen Space Gallery, London.
RONE's street piece to coincide with his show. Work in progress shots of the making - see below.
I have always admired the way you capture the raw and delicate contrast of beauty and decay. This contrast (friction) has been present in a lot of your work. Where does the interest in the beauty of decay come from?
RONE: It came from when I was doing paste-ups. I realised once they had decayed on the street for some time, they would have a real character that was much more interesting than what I first stuck on the wall.
Seven days, seventy hours, nine stories, ten liters of paint, twenty ton boom lift, twenty-five metres wide and thirty tall - that is what L'inconnue de la rue took. But it is much more than that. Would you tell us the story behind this stunning work please?
RONE: The logistics on what it took to make this wall happen were a nightmare, I honestly did not think it would ever come together. I was stunned when I realised I had no more excuses and it was just up to me to paint it.
About the 'RONE' aesthetic -tell us a bit more about how you cultivated it, your relation with the image and your fascination with 'calming beauty'?
RONE: It was not an intentional decision to paint in this style I am now known for. I was never any good with spray can so I avoided it and began using brushes, but the only way I could work out how to get it to blend was to use water. The water caused the paint to drip but on a large scale a few drips do not really matter.
Tools of the trade.
Your style is recognisable, even though you do not put your name next to your works. I wonder is it challenging when you start working in a different direction, but people expect you to continue working in the one, you already cultivated so carefully and skilfully. (All those 'Oh, but I liked your old stuff better', etc).
RONE: Yeah, this is a big challenge I have been thinking about recently - how to progress but not to lose the direction of what I have started.
RONE for Montreal Mural Festival, Canada.
RONE is currently on a road trip in America and we cannot wait and see what he has got up his sleeve.