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10 Urban Artists From Oceania You Should Know

August 13, 2014

In the past few decades Oceania, the edge of the world continent, centered on the islands of the tropical Pacific Ocean, has become a real nest for urban and street art geniuses, and the passion those young artists vow to this imported artistic activity comes from their desire to express themselves, but also to share their opinion freely and with spirit. This time we bring you our list of ten urban, highly influential and internationally renowned artist from Australia and New Zealand you should most definitely know and which, we are more than confident, you will love, admire and follow.

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Charlie Isoe - one of the last bohemians

Charlie Isoe is often described as one of the last bohemians, and truly is one of the most extraordinary talents. Before getting his arts degree, Charlie Isoe traveled the globe skateboarding and drawing graffiti. As he hitch-hiked across continents he left his paintings along his way in Australia, Thailand, Croatia, Bosnia, Germany. His spectacular portraits of humans and animals, full of energy and ideas, often feature colorful and twisted imagery of fractured and dissolving faces. Combining perfectly drawn lines with scribbles and deliberate scratchings, these are the spectacular artistic visions of addiction and corruption discovered by artist’s personal experiences and observations of his surroundings.

Fintan Magee - Australian Banksy

Even though some describe him as “Australia’s Banksy” for his engaged and humorous style, Fintan Magee creates rather unique artwork that touches upon negative aspects of our world, such as consumption, violence and war. Magee was born in Queensland, where he started his career painting graffiti art. Later on he obtained a Fine Art degree and moved to Brisbane. He received national acclaim for his Brisbane mural depicting Felix Baumgartner. Magee’s rich visual style that mixes surreal and figurative imagery is recognizable for bold images that utilize every available surface, dripping with color which very often bleeds off the walls and spill onto the sidewalk.

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Askew1 - blurring the lines between street and fine art

One of the driving forces behind New Zealand’s graffiti and street art scene, Askew1 is a self-taught, multidisciplinary artist, recognized worldwide for his unique approach to aerosol graffiti, but he also works as an illustrator, graphic designer, photographer, and music video and movie director and editor. Being on the urban art scene for well over 20 years, Askew1 has always been artistically evolving and exploring new and  exciting styles of expression, and always remaining passionate and committed to detail regardless of the size of his pieces, may they be executed on canvas or large walls. His captivating and thought provoking work is beautifully crafted and is blurring the lines between street and fine art.

Ben Frost - confronting, bold and controversial

Ben Frost is a witty visual and performance artist born in Brisbane, and now living and working in Sydney. He is widely known for his provocative, post-modern mash-up pop art framework that is confronting, bold and often highly controversial subversion of advertising and entertainment iconography. Frost is drawing inspiration from wide areas of street art including graffiti, collage, sign-writing and photorealism to create dazzling mix of brands, cartoon  characters and soft porn powerpuff girls turned against the propaganda industry and political mainstream. To show how easy it is to make people believe things that are not true, Frost faked his own death in 2000, sending  out newspaper funeral notices as invitations to his exhibition. Even his mother cried.

RONE - Painter of melancholic female faces

Rone is an acclaimed street artist from Melbourne, known for large-scale idealized portraits of glamorous women that appear perfectly composed when viewed from a far, but a closer look reveals signs of imperfection and deterioration. His father was a spraypainter and he started out decorating skateboards and skate parks. The cipher of all Rone’s work is a handpainted melancholic female face, that shows subtle emotions, caught in time just moments before becoming happy or sad. He is an author of what is considered to be the largest known mural in Australia, an eight-storey high portrait of a girl’s face Rone made on the side of the building in Melbourne.

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Smug - Photorealistic Masterpieces

Smug is one of the most talented and respected photorealistic street artist of today. He creates incredibly detailed and highly stylized graffiti paintings, with bizarre and humorous scenes often depicting skulls, portraits of famous characters and beautiful women. Smug’s elaborate and larger than life paintings of unparalleled technique of shadows and colors reflect his heightened sense of perfectionism. Looking at his work as a whole, it is clear that Smug is continually challenging himself and pushing his skills to the limit with every new work, so we can expect even greater paintings from him in the future.

Misery - Doe-eyed Characters

Tanja Jade Thompson aka Misery is renowned street artist, fashion designer and illustrator, but also the most famous female artist dedicated to graffiti from Auckland, New Zealand. While at Auckland Metropolitan College, Misery defined her distinct doe-eyed characters of certain darkness and vulnerability, which later evolved to a more humorous, fantastical creatures that brought her mainstream success and commissioned work for companies such as Casio, Piaggio, Serato and Mini. Today she attracts endless media attention and creates highly collectible artworks of mesmerizing beauty, executed not only on walls and canvases but also on eggs, vegetables, toys, clothing and other practical products.

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Reka One - surrealism and abstract fantasy

James Reka aka Reka One is a self-taught, extremely dedicated and highly productive urban artist based in Berlin, Germany (born in Melbourne) whose work is part of the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Australia. Since 2002 he has been recognized for his meticulously detailed illustrative and cartoon based works of mysterious pseudo-human creatures, based around the style of surrealism and abstract fantasy, and crafted with diligent, almost obsessive attention to the technical proficiency. Reka One uses geometric shapes like circles, squares and triangles and builds elaborate murals, creating his characters out of simple forms and pays huge amount of attention to his choice of colors as he uses them to portray the distinctive emotion and personality of each piece.

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Meggs - collage of pop culture symbology

Dave Meggs Hooke is an Australian street artist, painter and designer who works in variety of mediums. Growing up in the suburbs of Melbourne early artistic development of this multi talented and extraordinary artist was influenced by comics, cartoons and sci-fi movies of the 1980’s. This soon developed into passion for graffiti art. Meggs’ energetic work is a collage of pop culture symbology, it continually explores the notion of duality, morals and authorities and clearly references the nostalgia of childhood heroes and villains. In the last few years his career has been blowing up internationally, as he is venturing across the world leaving aerosol traces of his astonishing comic book imagery.

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Anthony Lister - raw energy and soft ethereality

Anthony Lister is a Brisbane-born painter and installation artist, described by many as Australia’s best. With strong background in graffiti and street art, his work also employs a sophisticated, eye-catching style to create his comic book imagery of boorish superheroes, bad-tempered old masters and villains. Lister’s mixed media technique, involving layers of spraypaint, ink and brushwork allow his paintings to have both raw energy and soft ethereality. His masterfully combined use of abstract techniques, precise shading, color scheme and chaotic line work delivers extremely effective and highly accessible, yet provocative and mind engaging, larger than life artwork.

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