28 Feb In conversation with MEGGS
StolenSpace Gallery proudly presents ‘Rise & Fall‘ a satirical solo exhibition by Los Angeles-based artist MEGGS. Following his residency and sold-out show at Inner State Gallery in Detroit last September, where he painted his largest mural to date at over 6,000 square feet, MEGGS continues his perpetual fascination with dualism, urban decay, and finding beauty in tragedy. We caught up with MEGGS at his ‘Rise & Fall’ show, which explores current fractures in the social fabric of urban society, such as imploding over-indulgence, fallen idols, and the detriments of pop culture.
SS: You are a founding member of the Everfresh Crew from Melbourne. How does it feel being part of a collective of street art pioneers?
Everfresh was something that happened organically when a group of artists started sharing a warehouse studio. It grew into a collective as we started hanging out, collaborating, and doing street art missions together.
We never really had any intentions for it, it just grew into something more significant because all of us were hard working and it was a unique situation to have several street/graffiti artists in one space, collaborating on street works. We may have made a lasting impression because of the mixture of unique styles and the amount of work we put up consistently, as a group and as individuals. In retrospect, I’m thankful for having those years and partnerships, which shaped me into a legit full-time artist. It’s amazing that we could be so influential in the Melbourne scene, and contribute to the growth of Australian Street Art culture in general. I definitely wouldn’t have learnt so much about painting and making art, or have met so many dynamic people over the years if I wasn’t a part of Everfresh.
SS: Your bio says that “your life manifesto is that the ‘journey is the reward’”. What do you mean? How does this statement reflect in your work?
I believe that being an artist is a lifetime journey of continual growth and that the freedom and experiences I can have along the way are the most rewarding part of doing what I do. It’s hard work to make a living as an artist, so it’s easy to forget to appreciate the people and life experiences I have. I try to remind myself of this and not get too distracted by material gains. I feel that this transfers to my work by trying to continually evolve and improve, and hope that each body of work is influenced by my experiences and the places in which they are shown.
Specifically, for ‘Rise & Fall,’ we created banners one night at the gallery with a good crew of people (shout outs: Miya, Louis, Andy, Lee, Jarus), just having some fun experimenting with the fire. Working with other people, sharing stories and ideas is what is rewarding for me and I think it adds something to the story and meaning of the work being created.
SS: You believe that ‘art is an international language and a universal avenue for the free expression of creative ideas’. Do you think that art can change something in the world? Can it affect people’s conscience?
Art, especially public art, can affect people’s consciences and ideally make them a part of their surroundings and community. It also simply just spreads the idea of creative expression and colour to the world.
In my experience, art is a powerful way to bring like-minded people together worldwide and I believe it can contribute to positive social change. It’s important for us to value creativity and individual expression, as well as reflect on and document people and culture.
SS: Talking about your technique and style, you combine different influences and mix skillfully street art and fine art. Can you tell us more about your creative process and the progression of your style?
Thanks! My creative process is a combination of illustration, sourced imagery, collages, and painting using screenprinting, inks, aerosol, and acrylics. I’m constantly collecting and storing source material. When I have an idea in mind, I start playing with different elements and create illustrations and a collage composition that I will paint from.
I begin with a black and white illustration/composition and build the colours and textures during the painting process. Its important to me to have a plan but also partly leave the development of the final piece to intuition and experimentation.
Essentially my process is a continual search for the balance between form & abstraction. Which is also an important part of the ‘journey being the reward.’
SS: What is your inspiration behind your work? What are the themes you are interested in investigating?
The idea and inspiration can come from various sources, from a combination of ideas I have about life and society, down to something as simple as a photo I saw or movie I watched. Obviously duality is at the core of most of my work, especially the idea of conflicting roles (i.e. hero vs. villain). I work with the idea of heroism and role models as an ongoing theme, partly inspired by comic book narratives. A large part of the inspiration for future pieces comes purely from the process of making work and being excited by new techniques and the development of my work. I think one of the most important things for an artist is just to continually be creating and trying new things.
SS: What was the most exciting thing that happened to you during the last year?
One of the standouts for me last year was doing a residency in Detroit, which allowed me to first-hand experience of the extreme rise, fall, and regrowth of one of America’s most significant cities. It was definitely an inspiration in the direction of my work and the exploration of duality, opposite extremes, and consumer culture. This led to my 6,000 square foot ‘Rise Up’ mural for the city – my largest solo artistic undertaking to date, and a satisfying personal milestone.
SS: Can you tell us more about your exhibition ‘Rise & Fall’ at StolenSpace Gallery?
‘Rise & Fall’ is a continuation of the themes and pieces I worked on in Detroit. With this show, I had a slightly more playful take on consumerism gone wrong and focused on my fascinations with duality and beauty that is found in the decay of pop-culture icons, heroes, and the values that they represent.
SS: What are your future projects, plans and upcoming exhibitions?
This year I am working on several new murals, brand collaborations and group shows. I am painting at SXSW in Austin with Pow! Wow! Hawaii in March & Seawalls: Mexico with PangeaSeed in July. My next solo show is with Thinkspace Gallery at the LA Municipal Art Center in October, as part of the larger ‘Beyond Eden’ multi-gallery Event.