Amidst the chaos of everyday life it’s not easy to stay levelheaded. But for Melbourne based painter and street artist Senekt, it’s important that we find a state of balance. This is the idea that influences his aptly named exhibition Equilibrium. Senekt paints in a figurative style with a strong focus on the human body, but with his playful use of colour and overlapping images, it’s clear that his pieces aren’t just any Life Drawing 101. Hailing from Kyoto, Senekt’s works can now be found splayed across the buildings and galleries of Melbourne. Melbourne’s art scene helped to develop Senekt’s style, and allowed his visions for large-scale murals to become a reality.
How has moving to Melbourne changed you as an artist?
It’s changed my painting style. When I arrived here, I met so many artists… so many creative people live here in Melbourne. So I had my style, but I thought it wasn’t good enough. So I started to develop my own realism style. First I painted a finger, and then a hand, and then a human body… kind of like a Google map.
Like a Google map?
You know, like it’s slowly zooming out.
Who are the people that you draw? Are they your friends, or do you find them in photos?
I take photos, and sometimes I use the internet… but for me who they are isn’t important. The motive isn’t, “who is this?” It’s more about the idea that humans are just animals.
Does that idea influence your exhibition Equilibrium?
Yeah, kind of. Humans are really clever modern animals. But there are some people starting wars… like in Japan, I can’t believe the government’s opinion sometimes. Anyway, everyone is always having negative and positive experiences and ups and downs. In my next show, I want to show people how to change that and make a turning point. Rather than all the ups and downs I want people to feel more level.
How is the art world different in Japan compared to Australia?
It’s really different. I think Japanese people don’t buy art pieces. That’s why Japanese artists make most of their money from commercial work. But Melbourne artists are making stuff and having exhibitions and selling the canvas and art pieces… although some artists are doing commercial works as well. Also, Melbourne is more chill. I think Melbourne people are good at organising a work-life balance. Japan is very different. People are working all the time, so they don’t have time to themselves. Everyone has so much stress.
In your Vimeo video, you mention that you are influenced by the artist Morio Matsui. But his artworks are very abstract, kind of like Jackson Pollock… how does he influence your artwork?
It’s more about his attitude for the canvas. I knew his art from the internet, but when I saw the real thing it was completely different… It felt like human power or energy or something. When I saw this one piece, it felt like my mind and soul was so small, and all my little thoughts and worries seemed so tiny. It felt like I could let go of all my thoughts so that my mind was completely clear, which made me cry. I wanted people to feel like that. It made me want to draw pictures that motivated people to carry on with a more positive mindset.
You do a lot of street-art as well. Does your street-art differ from your paintings?
No, it’s the same—just using different materials. For example, when I make murals I always use the roller. But I think if you can paint on paper, then you can paint on a wall. If I paint a mural on a wall first I paint on paper, because it makes it easier to paint on the wall. But if I work freestyle on the wall, it’s harder. If I do it on the paper first, I can remember the control, so it’s easier.
How did you start out painting murals? When you first came to Melbourne, did you come here thinking that you want to make artworks?
Yes, the first time I painted a huge wall was here in Melbourne. In Japan it’s hard to get a huge wall so that’s why when I lived in Japan I wanted to paint a big mural… and when I came here I could do that. Japanese artists want to paint murals, but it’s so hard. That’s why Japanese artists are making a live painting culture. Like pasting a big paper or panel in some club or music festival and everyone starts painting there. I was live painting every week in Tokyo.
How do you feel about your upcoming show?
Half excited, half nervous!
You can catch Senekt at his opening show at Backwoods Gallery on Friday the 25th of August. The exhibition will run from August 25–27. For more information, check out the Backwoods Gallery website or the Facebook event.