Strong, clean lines and cubist inspired characters in vivid colors have long been the main signifiers of Berlin based artist James Reka’s, aka Reka’s, paintings. His previous works, featured here on our blog, depict geometrical figures but the choice of colors, the backgrounds, and the style have dramatically changed over the past few years. His graffiti background is becoming less evident as Reka is increasingly interested in abstraction, and his new work may be his most enigmatic.
The recent Vision Art Festival, held in the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana in Canton Valais, has taken the street art scene to new heights. A few years ago, a couple of young art enthusiasts from the region had a twisted idea to bring street artist to Swiss alps – on the lift stations, shelters, and restaurant buildings around the ski slopes. After last year’s “test event”, which produced a mural by Icy & Sot and Hebru Brantley, the local community accepted the idea and the long preparations begun. On August 24th, Vision Art Festival 2015 officially opened, hosting an impressive lineup of international artists: Chor Boogie, Reka One, Okuda, 2Alas, Greg Mike, Angry Woebots, Leza One, Rustam Qbic, Toz, Rodrigo Branco, Never Crew, and more.
Australian artist Reka (covered here), now based in Berlin, has become recognized for the colorful and energetic aesthetic of his graffiti and paintings. The figures in his work have a variety of characteristics that are whimsical, yet bold and vigorous. His new body of work, “OLYMPVS,” on view at AvantGarden Gallery in Italy, continues to mix contradicting styles. Inspired by scenes from Ancient Greece and its Mount Olympus, Reka’s new pieces combine classical themes with a futuristic look. In poppy, vibrant colors, fragmented into Cubist compositions, he depicts bathing nudes, marble busts, and still life.
Berlin-based artist Reka recently visited San Francisco to paint a colorful, Cubist-inspired mural in a quiet part of the SOMA district. With his work from the past year, Reka has increasingly moved away from figuration. Though his new mural has two female characters at its center, he fractured his subject matter into geometric shapes that evolve into design elements. The clean lines and rounded forms evoke an Art Deco aesthetic, which Reka underscores with his retro-inspired color palette.
Berlin-based artist Reka recently travelled to London for his current solo show “Trip the Light” at StolenSpace Gallery (see our preview here) and left a mural behind in the Shoreditch district. While the graceful movements of dancers’ bodies served as the inspiration for the paintings in Reka’s exhibition, the mural took on a more playful, illustrative look despite its shared Modernist aesthetic. Over a black background, Reka painted free-flowing, abstract forms. Some of them emerge as illustrations of specific objects — a fish head, a chess piece with an all-seeing eye — while others keep the viewer asking questions. Is that a spray can with the punk slogan ACAB? The whimsical piece is intended to keep us guessing.
Both based in Berlin by way of Australia, Two One and Reka (see our recent studio visit here) are exhibiting together at StolenSpace Gallery in London in two concurrent solo shows: Reka’s “Trip the Light” and Two One’s “The Hunted Hunter’s Head.” Inspired by the graceful movements of dancers from a young age, Reka (whose mother was a ballerina) presents a series of paintings that pay homage to the fluid, abstract shapes the body can make. His Cubist-inspired paintings might have one imagining a toe-tapping soundtrack of jazz or even the swell of a symphony, but Reka tempers these allusions to older, more traditional art forms with gritty paint textures that evoke his graffiti roots.