Paving the way: the bitumen is Drasko’s canvas

My first encounter with Drasko’s stencils was on the footpaths of Windsor and Prahran. But it wasn’t until he ventured into the CBD laneways, that I was to learn of his identity.

“My first foray onto the street was with paste-ups but I found this a very expensive means of expression. The other problem was, they were lost amongst the busyness of the graffitied wall.

So I printed up fake $20 and $50 notes and placed them near my work. This certainly grabbed people’s attention!”

Drasko went on to say that it was pleasurable doing something different as everyone was using the wall.

“This can be lead to problems on the ‘street’ as it’s very territorial and there can be placement issues. So I decided not to follow suit, to be different and use the footpath. The use of the footpath was also inspired by the chalk and charcoal drawings one sees in Europe,” he said.

He has a very simple but distinctive stencil technique that’s achieved without the use of Photoshop.

“I use the shadow to bring the image out– it really ‘pops’. This very important 3D aspect to my work distinguishes me from other stencillers,” he said.

Drasko cleverly angles his stencils to give the viewer a different perspective as they move around the piece. The evenness of a surface is all important. It needs to be smooth, otherwise the detail is lost.

“I find the ground easier to work on than a wall and can complete two or three stencils in half an hour,” he said.

Originally from war-torn Yugoslavia, Drasko moved to Melbourne about 23 years ago and was initially based in Doncaster, which was quite a cultural shock for someone from Europe.

“Looking for a somewhere more open to the arts, I eventually made the move to St Kilda,” he said.

Drasko almost completed a degree in sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, Croatia and, on his arrival in Australia, completed his bachelor of fine arts (sculpture) and, in more recent years, his masters of contemporary art, both at the VCA.

Medium-wise, Drasko’s stencilling is environmentally friendly. The “chalk spray” that he uses, although of limited palette, has less fumes, lingering odour and dries quickly. It is better all round-for the artist as well.

This is a great selling point but sadly, the paint is being phased out. Recently he has started using “sugar”-based aerosols. These are non-toxic, less expensive and also better for the environment. With time, foot traffic and the weather, they tend to just fade away!

Drasko feels that with his use of environmentally-friendly spray and the fact that it’s not long lasting, his work is more likely to gain widespread approval.

“Because there is such a battle amongst street artists for wall space, I’m surprised that more people aren’t using other surfaces. Perhaps it’s the desire for longevity that makes a wall so desirable?”

Coming from a gallery background, Drasko is relatively new to the street scene. He feels that it is more tolerant and less elitist. The gallery/fine art world can be a very controlling one. The street is for everyone should they choose to participate.

While generally a solo street artist, recent months have seen this turn around for him and he’s become a keen participant in Akemi Ito’s (CBD News, October, 2014) monthly “paint” afternoons.

A participant in this year’s White Night Melbourne, Drasko’s projected images depicted childhood memories from his war-torn homeland.

Pioneer, for example, is a reenactment of Marshall Tito’s pretend visit to his school.

In May, Drasko participated at the St Kilda Short Film Festival for the second year. His projection, purely for entertainment purposes, with new footage and title, Message from Mars, was a reworking of his White Night Melbourne piece.

At a “huge gig” at Frankston Art Centre, from July14 until August1, Drasko’s projection will once again be shown.

The exhibition, also titled Message from Mars, will showcase videos of a possible trip to the red planet. This daytime interactive installation will enable participants to recreate a 3D illusion of playing on Mars!

WARNING! The next time you’re strolling in a CBD laneway, be alert and look down: you could be walking on a Drasko!

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