The kindest cut

The artist known as “Man of Darkness” doesn’t relate to either title of stencil artist or street artist.

“The stencil is just another medium that I enjoy using to best represent an idea that I’m trying to communicate,” he said.

About four years ago he set himself up as a graphic designer in a studio space at The Blender Studios in Franklin St. It was here that he came into contact with two luminaries of the Australian Stencil scene – ELK (shortlisted for the Archibald Prize in 2012) and Ha Ha (see CBD News June 2015). It was their influence and inspiration that saw him begin to experiment with the stencil as a means of expression.

Until recently, Man of Darkness’s subjects were young Asian women. One piece was a take on the iconic Skipping Girl Vinegar sign in Abottsford. It was not your blonde, blue-eyed Aussie image but, rather, an assimilation piece and a nod to his Greek heritage.

Another of his earlier pieces Bubble-Gum Girl has real attitude. This stencil can still be seen in Blender Lane.

“The cutting of the stencils for her complicated tie-dyed dress nearly did my head in!” he said.

At the time of this interview, Man of Darkness was exploring the bird as a theme and was stenciling a seven-layered image onto Perspex for easy placement on the street – behind bars or attached to a frame. Although he has no plans for a solo exhibition, he sees this idea as translating into a gallery situation.

However, recent weeks have seen him return to using images of young women, combining the stencil with painting techniques. He’s enjoying this experimentation, as his work is one of constant exploration and evolution.

As previously stated, he doesn’t see himself as part of the street art/graff scene, enjoying what he’s doing as a means of self expression.

“Everyone makes art for their own personal reasons and no-one is more justified or entitled than anyone else to put their work on the streets,” he said.

This battle for wall space and entitlement is a constant part of the scene and can be quite aggressive and unreasonable.

When asked for an opinion on the state of the scene in Melbourne, Man of Darkness went on to say: “It is what it is, it will evolve and change naturally as the city changes.”

This winter saw Man of Darkness return to Ngukurr, a small community in south-west Arnhem Land.

He was not quite mentoring but revisiting, connecting and helping out with the Yugal Mangi Festival.

This festival showcases local and regional talent in both traditional and rock music, sport, visual arts, film, dance and cultural programs. Apart from being involved with this festival, which he describes as an awesome experience, Man of Darkness was privileged to be taken to a sacred site that had a 1000-year-old cave paintings. A privilege indeed!

Man of Darkness, apart from co-running classes in stencil making at Blender Studios, is responsible for The Blender Lane Artists Market. It’s on every Wednesday night, 110 Franklin St, until February 24.

See www.theblendermarket.com

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