The only thing better than one girl street artist is two.
Last week Syke and Takie, two emerging Sydney painters joined forces to form an awesome show that takes you on a tour down the backstreets, back alleys back lanes and back sides of their beloved Inner West landscape.
Stoop kid from Hey Arnold fame didn’t play well with others, these stoop kids do. Behind the street artist pseudonyms are two smiley and very talented lady artists with a body of work to be reckoned with.
The title of the exhibition (NEW-TOWN BEAT) is a nod to the legendary 80’s graffiti artist Jean Michel Basquiat’s pictographic inscription & title of his film NEW YORK BEAT (below) and to his collaborative, frenetic and short lived practice. Basquiat worked with Warhol amongst others to create expressive, abstracted works that can be read like codices. He was fascinated by primitive visual and symbolic forms of communication and transcribed symbols supposedly used by New York’s homeless community to pass on messages and knowledge (also below one of his sources from a Henry Dreyfus book).
From an urban point of view it is impossible to look at Basquiat’s work and not feel the presence of the city, and not just any city, THE city, arguably the most iconic of modern metropolises- New York. I was given a book on Basquiat by my year 12 art teacher- I think she wanted me become bolder, more abstracted…actually I’m not sure why she gave it to me but she hit the nail on the head and I’ve been obsessed ever since.
In a similar way Syke and Takie pay tribute to Sydney, but not the sparkly harbour city of Brett Whitely and not the machinic, efficient Sydney of Herbert Badham- their works come together like a series of snap shots taken whilst skate boarding or riding down a litany of interconnected lane ways, or from the window of a moving car whilst trying to dodge some infernal Cleveland Street traffic. Sydney terraces and row houses viewed front on can be triumphs of symmetry and continuity, from the back it is a different story.
The terrace form necessitated service lanes that cut through the urban fabric and remain in use today. These chaotic geometries offered by the ‘back view’ of Sydney from these lanes are familiar to those that want to avoid main drags and those that are always on the look out for a new canvas to put up on. Sometimes it’s not even about the canvas it is about the frame (aka the city around the work) as the thing which gives rise to the unique conditions that motivate street artists to work.
Like Belgrave Cartel in the last post, the Tate is not full time gallery but a great space upstairs at the Toxteth Hotel on Glebe Point Road with one big long central wall that offers a tonne of flexibility for hanging and displaying works. Syke and Takie went for a salon style hang with two of Syke’s handcrafted wooden skateboards acting like bookends on the far left and right and letter box and stoop sculptures popping out to greet you amongst the paintings. The space is run by Lo-fi Collective who are a part gallery part studio arts collective started above Lo-Fi Bar at Taylor Square (where the Standard is now).
Lo-fi continue to collect impressive Sydney talent like it is going out of fashion, but make a point of keeping it ‘low brow’ & street art driven. The Tate space doesn’t take commission- which makes having an exhibition about 100% more attractive for about 100% of artists (yes I’ve researched those facts) but the disadvantage is that the exhibitions aren’t up for long- or at least this one isn’t so they can be short lived affairs and you have to be quick. An added advantage of the Tate’s location is the close proximity of craft/local beers on tap downstairs, yummy pub grub and the smorgasbord of Glebe just outside. Lots of dranks, lots of great art and plenty of red stickers!
You can check out Syke and Takie individually at : http://www.thetakie.com/
Thanks to Syke for the use of her insta images!
Till next time my culture vultures,