JAMES REKA – Interlinked

Acrylic & Aerosol on canvas
70 x 90 cm, 2022

frame included

Artist info


James Reka is a young contemporary Australian artist 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. His figurative work has come to represent the beginnings of a new style of street art: clean, unique, and not necessarily on the street (much to his mother’s joy). Surrealist, abstracted creatures emerge from the depths of Rekas' mind, communicating through strong lines, dynamic movement, and bold colors. These figures haunt the laneways over four continents, clambering up brick walls and giving the urban environment a literal fresh coat of paint. Their personalities mirror those of their often-decrepit metropolitan context, opening a dialogue between the viewer and their surroundings. Through these origins, Reka has developed an incredibly diligent, almost obsessive attention to the technical proficiency of his work, and it has moved him towards producing ever-increasingly meticulously detailed 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 recognizable but isolating, playful yet eerie. This is Reka’s art: a paradox between sharp design and graffiti held together with a fuse of passion and spray paint. Reka’s artwork has been inspired by 2 movements; Cubism getting the upper hand over Surrealism, which revealed the mirage as a curve towards abstraction. The artist puts extra care in executing his figures with specific aesthetics, vivid colored flat tints, bur-less painted turns, lines, and curves. Straightforward, his compositions made of pop hints are flirting with geometry. No matter from what corner you will be looking at Rekas’ paintings, their moving perspectives invite reflection and optical illusion, through games of colors, straight lines, and volumes. Merging classic and folk backgrounds, the artist likes to break boundaries between forms and contours. On a wall or a canvas, the characters and objects nest one with another by the game of astonishing straight twists, becoming almost necessary to ogle in order to see what is hidden there. “My style,” he said “is more straightforward now, it has become rather abstract over the years. I am more focusing on the whole harmony rather than the content, on the link between every individual line and every shape.” Reka has held solo exhibitions in Chicago, Krakow, London, Paris, Milan, San Francisco, Denmark, Perth, Sydney, and Melbourne. He was also invited to exhibit at the acclaimed Royal West of England Academy (RWA) in Bristol, UK. On the streets, his characters adorn the walls of cities around the world from Tokyo to Buenos Aires and Paris to Brooklyn, Montreal to Berlin, and the 4 corners of the world.  Reka’s works have recently been acquisitioned by the National Gallery of Australia for their permanent collection. cementing his place as one of Australia’s most respected contemporary street artists.

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Part of the “Eden” series.

“This collection of artworks titled ‘EDEN’ explores the theme of desire and the underlining flawed nature of mankind – the realisation that we are not perfect nor exempt from falling for temptation. One of the humanistic, defining elements of man, at least in our modern society, is the balance between desire and morality. Many of us, understand this core challenge in life, that we always want, what we can’t have. 

I have sought here to relate to these Primal urges that lead us to instinctively explore ourselves and our surroundings, the eternal catalyst of discovery and pleasure that leads us into temptation.

This is what lead me to draw upon the metaphorical ‘Garden of Eden’ references that abound in scriptures and texts, from the book of Genesis. It is the fruit that was forbidden to Adam and Eve, but to which they succumbed. It symbolises the battle between good and evil that overcame their Garden of Eden, the same battle that rages even today in our modern lives.

But how many times a day do you jeopardise your own “salvation” when you are tempted?  After all, the breadth of “sins” we commit daily threatens the pathway to our potential paradise and we risk the fate of banishment that was wrought upon Adam & Eve.

That’s why the representation of fruit is a critical symbol in this series, a metaphorical form that alludes to sinful or forbidden pleasure. 

Central to the garden theme of this series, are the influences of my new life in Malta. Since moving from Berlin I have been exploring this collection of islands and I have been inspired by its ancient Neolithic history and culture, tracing back to pre 5000BC. Visiting and understanding the ancient temples scattered across the islands has been a significant influence on my work for this exhibition. I have used the Symbology, the sacred geometry of the megalithic structures and the natural colours and soft light of the Mediterranean.

I took inspiration from the full-bodied female “mother-figure” statues, that once were residents of the ancient temples of this historical landscape. This has allowed me to overlay their form in a series of figurative canvas works, focusing on the contrast of fruit & “nature” elements, with abstract elements of the human form. This is an abstracted composition of organic life, inviting the viewer to compare and contrast the similarities and differences between Mankind & Nature. These artworks also incorporate symbols of nature and in this Eden setting, I have used a richer colour palette for the background of these works, referencing the fruits and colours of the Mediterranean contrasted with a grey-scale colour palette for the female figures referencing its stone-like statue forms.” James Reka

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