You may know Vexta’s psychedelic feather figures from her Absolut Vodka Bottle or have seen them scattered throughout the laneways of Melbourne. The elusive artist talks to us from Brooklyn about the temporal nature of street art, how inspiration feels like a giant rush of wind and what it’s like to be a woman in a male-dominated field.
Where do your ideas come from?
I don’t know exactly, sometimes ideas appear in my dreams; sometimes an idea for a painting will appear in my head when I’m riding my bike. I feel like ideas travel through me and I wish I knew where they came from because then it would be easier to have more of them, though as it is, I have more than I can actualise.
What themes are carried through your work?
Life and death, creation and destruction, transcendence and metamorphosis, and what ever else the viewer brings to the experience of seeing the work.
Wikipedia says that you are notable because you are a female operating in a male-dominated arena. Does that have any impact on the way you approach your work?
I’d like to think it didn’t but I guess the world isn’t at that point yet. Lately I feel it more, so I want to present my perspective of life and the world, and yes, that’s a female perspective. At the moment I’ve been thinking a lot about creating new mythologies for women within art and art on the streets, but that doesn’t mean I don’t make my work for men as well.
Do you have to be in a certain frame of mind to create?
Maybe, though I don’t know what that state is called but I know when it’s happening. It’s like an unstoppable a rush of wind blowing through you that you have to go with. Though at other times, creating can be more like any job and I just go to work and get on with it.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by a lot of things. The constants seem to be transcendence, psychedelics, metamorphosis and existentialism. As well as more generally by nature, cosmology, science, poetry and of course, the human form.
What music do you listen to when you’re painting?
It depends. Lately I’m listening to anything from Arthur Russell to Arvo Part to Mike Patton to Jamie XX to Devendra Banhart. That was just today.
How does it feel when your street art gets painted over?
Sometimes it’s a bit disappointing when it happens faster than you expect. I’ve installed works in the street and not even photographed them before they have vanished but you learn to let it go. The only constant in this world is change and street art is like the expression of that in the art world. Nothing will last forever, you know?
Do you paint in the day or night?
Both. I love painting between the hours of about midnight and 4 or 5 am. That’s like the magic hour for me.
Are your figures with feathers in place of hands falling or flying?
It can be both or either.
What is your motivation?
To make great art.
When and why did you move to Brooklyn?
I came to Brooklyn about 4 months ago; I’m not sure how permanent it is. It’s more that I’ve left Australia for a while and I really like Brooklyn and New York and so here I am, for now. Being here is like living in the past and the future all at once. Its grimy and wild, like a wilderness made of buildings. So that’s why I’m here.
Do you believe that Melbourne is the stencil graffiti capital?
I think there was a time when it was crazy and booming and there possibly were more stencils on the streets than anywhere else. But like all cities, things change. I think stencils have become one smaller part of a bigger whole now.
What are you working on at the moment?
Right now I’m painting for a group show in India, and planning walls to paint there too. I’m also learning how to slip cast porcelain, which is super fun.
What’s next for you?
Just working here in New York on new ideas then I’m hopefully going down to Mexico for Day of the Dead, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. After that I travel to India for the Contemporary Art Biennale, then a stop in Australia then it’s back to Brooklyn. Travel and art, travel and art, that’s what it’s all about.