Grafitti v art.

I know a couple of you who will decry anything painted on a wall as vandalism. So after reading all this post a simple “It’s all bad!” doesn’t actually get us anywhere.

The Forum Theatre (originally the State Theatre) is a theatre, cinema and live music venue located on the corner of Flinders and Russell Streets. Built in 1929, the building features a Moorish Revival exterior, including minarets and a clock tower and is one of my favourite Melbourne buildings.

Between this building and the one on the left is an alleyway that has become a graffiti hotspot. Personally I don’t like it.

Most of the most ‘useless’ pieces are what is called ‘tagging’ where someone runs around at night signing his/her name. Having spent most of my life teaching teenage boys I have a certain understanding of them and while I don’t like, or condone, spraying names over public buildings, trains and roadways I can understand the need that some people have to make a mark. These people are all too often those who have been marginalised by society. And there is absolutely no value in saying that they should get a job or have a sense of responsibility or any of the other handful of ways of dismissing them.

The whole problem of disaffected youth isn’t helped by blanket criticism. And before you start writing negative comments about graffiti wait until you have looked at the rest.

Some years ago a young Graffiti artist started to mature and take his ‘art’ to a different level. I met him three years ago. His name is Tyrone but he goes by the name of Rone. 

He was very happy to talk about his work.  At that time he was in the middle of an exhibition at an old picture theatre in Melbourne that was about to be demolished to make way for a ten storey apartment building. Before the building was destroyed Rone was given permission to paint a portrait on the front wall where the screen used to be.

Along both sides of the huge empty space were photographs of other portraits that he had painted in other buildings that were to be demolished. These photos are what remain of his art works.

I asked him what his point was and he wouldn’t say. But we kept talking and slowly it became clear. Rone is fascinated by what he calls the transitory nature of beauty. What I didn’t answer for myself, and he didn’t either, was this: Does the old and decaying building upon which he paints beautiful women enhance the beauty of his models or do the models make us look at the beauty that was in the buildings? I’ll come back to this later.

Certainly the dust in this old building did add to the whole exhibition.

But there was one project that I followed to the end. A major project in Alphington was a huge demolition job and the developer had seen Rone’s work in the theatre project – the one above. – so he, the developer – offered Rone the full use of one of the old houses. He left the house to the very end of the demolition and Rone painted portraits in every room and also recorded the final destruction.

It is worth going to look at the whole of the Omega Project.

But what I recorded is below.



34 thoughts on “Grafitti v art.

      1. And I agree with you, mostly. Not all, but mostly. If you had gone into that old theatre and seen the huge portrait on the wall you would have agreed with me – a bit.


      2. My objection is that graffiti vandals generally have lack of respect. the property they feel entitled to deface always belongs to an individual or the public who didn’t want it and then have to either live with it or pay to have it removed.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. I am from the bush – drought now – but I call that art. Some of the ‘stuff’ I’ve seen in so called art galleries wouldn’t even pass as graffiti. To me art should be something that makes one wonder and enjoy. Rone’s work is amazing.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The good the bad and the ugly in graffiti.

    I’m like Andrew I despise the cowardly vandals. A couple of years back we had a new roller door installed and within 1 day (night probably) the cowards had vandalized it with their spray cans of paint. I assure you had I have been there and caught them, they’d have finished up at the RPAH with serious head injuries. They’d have felt the full fury of yours truly!

    I used to love going to the State for the movies back in the 50’s was my favourite theatre, followed by the Capital, think Walter Burley Griffin


    1. I am fully in agreement about the graffiti vandals but I had rather hoped some people would make more positive comments on the artwork that I posted as well. Because nobody can convince me that Rone isn’t an artist and he doesn’t scribble on private garage doors but on walls that have been lent to him to paint on.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Perhaps had you have just done a post on Rone and not have bunged in that graffiti you might have got the response you’re looking for.
        As it stands the graffiti takes centre stage and Rone seems to be an afterthought.


      2. I was attempting – obviously with little success – to highlight the differences. There were 4 photos of street graffiti and 24 that featured Rone. But I did anticipate that some of you would focus narrowly on one area and pass over the rest.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oh, he’s absolutely an artist. What I find interesting about artists like him, is that they are willing to produce this art without seeking fame or fortune. I wonder what he does for a crust?


  3. I am thankful that he has taken photos of his soon to be lost commissioned paintings. They are ghostly reminders of that building in its heyday. And your photos are pretty evocative as well.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Oh dear, oh dear…

    Not sure I’m going to be popular around here.

    I am universally annoyed by litter, dog muck and people who steal my plants.

    However, I quite like a lot of the grafitti I see around, though I do sympathise with the owners if their property is damaged by it.

    There are places that are actually improved by the vandalism, and I admire the talent of many of the artists. There aren’t any positive aspects of litter dog muck and plant theft that I can think of.

    We’d be better off encouraging talent and making space for grafitti.

    I’m not really a liberal, I just like bright colours. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Well that is the most balanced comment so far. A blanket dismissal doesn’t recognise the positives that are in some of the grafitti that appears. Thank you. And some comments have taken no notice of the serious art that I posted.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Street art can enhance, or degrade. I am not against any art that beautifies the surroundings. The “tagging” type is often not aesthetically pleasing, and foul language sprayed on private property is simply destructive vandalism. I’m sorry that the beautiful examples of Rone’s work are temporary.


  6. That theatre and Rone’s artwork are fabulous, John! Some people will never have the chance to be seen in the public arena otherwise and if they have the talent I’m happy for it to shine forth. I have seen some wonderful examples in many different places. My only objection is to scribble. 🙂 🙂 Thanks for sharing. It’s appreciated.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s