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.
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.