Backwoods Gallery
More than a gallery

Exhibition

Backwoods Gallery exhibit work by artists who have a background in street art and illustration, and provide a space for artists to present their work, on their own terms, without limitations.

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Scarlet by James Reka


  • Backwoods Gallery 25 Easey Street Collingwood, VIC, 3066 Australia (map)

Exhibition Essay

Have you ever felt that things are not within your power? Meekness is a fiendish strategy to hold intact all that is dreadful and extreme. Self-subversion and asceticism hold strong, but quietly and softly the eyes of the charming and innocent boggle upwards at the hedonist. She unveils the dark ritual of work, eat, sleep, repeat - the catalepsy caused by first world existence; escalating the desire for pleasure to it’s all mighty destruction. She is Scarlet.

From the roaring 1920’s to the second World War, and the Berlin Wall that divided the German Capital for 28 years - Berlin has historically been a dark dystopia, juxtaposed between desire and destruction. The fate this city bore has given birth too unique cultural grounds, where the line between high life and underground are inescapably blurry. Nourished by street art, punk culture, techno music, sexual laxity and hedonism - a new generation has transformed the artefacts of Berlin's dark past to create a Scarlet utopia of the post-war state.

Metaphoric notions of reconstruction are actualised through the post-cubist, industrial stylisation of the female form that features throughout Reka’s latest works - both painted and sculptural. The ‘Scarlet’ collection bears Rekas iconic visual language, with hints of a modern romance amidst historical sculptural artefacts, erotic art forms and Berlin's unavoidable pleasures.

James Reka

James Reka stands as one of Australia's most respected contemporary artists, having earn't his place in the National Gallery of Australia's permanent collection. While currently based in Berlin, Germany. His origins lie in the alleyways and train lines of Melbourne’s inner-suburbs, where he spent over a decade refining his now-emblematic aesthetic and pioneering of a new style of street art in Australia as part of the Everfresh crew. 

Surrealist, abstracted characters emerge from the depths of Reka’s mind, communicating through strong lines, bold colours and post-cubist styling. Theses figures live in the homes and laneways of three continents, clambering up walls and enriching the urban environment with his iconic visual language. 

With influences in pop culture, cartooning and illustration, Reka’s studio style emerged from his early design practice, featuring striking lines and colour ways. Over time, the logos and symbols he created evolved into more structured, animated forms and evolved to new mediums: murals, photography, and most recently sculpture. 

Through these origins, Reka has developed an incredibly diligent, almost obsessive attention to the technical proficiency of his studio work, which has elevated him to produce meticulously detailed, collected pieces. His art sits somewhere between humorous and menacing, contrasting the two opposing feelings in a way that is unique to his vision. These pseudo-human forms are recognisable but isolating, playful yet eerie. 

This is Reka’s art: a paradox between fastidious design and graffiti. 

Recently, Reka has held solo shows in London, San Francisco, Denmark and Melbourne, has exhibited at the Royal West of England Academy (RWA) in Bristol, as well as pieces appearing in New York, Munich, Denver and Cologne exhibitions. On the streets, his characters adorn the walls of cities around the world from Japan to Milan and Paris to Brooklyn, Montreal and Berlin.

Selected Artworks

Skulptur, Scarlet by James Reka

Earlier Event: November 24
Ora Ora by Shohei Otomo