ADAM Cicanese is a humanities and social sciences teacher by day, but at night he turns into “ArtbyRow” and creates some of the coolest graffiti art in Fremantle and Perth.
His work includes the three striking murals at the back of Paddy Troy Mall, and he’s currently put the finishing touches to a large-scale graphic work in Northbridge for Lord of the Fries.
This month the 26-year-old will make the jump from the streets to the gallery, with his first official exhibition Transpired Paradise at the Moores Building in Fremantle.
Cicanese says that during the past two years his style has evolved and he’s now doing a lot more portraiture work, without totally abandoning his graffiti-art roots.
“I think my style is somewhere currently between semi-realism and expressionism, focusing on human form but merging these with my past work to display ideas and feelings I have at the time of creating,” he says.
“Growing up I’ve always been influenced by graffiti, cartoons, comics, hip-hop culture, which can be categorised as thick black outlines, bold colours and vectored shapes. A lot of these past influences still emerge through my recent portraiture work.
“I chose to move into portraiture as I wanted a new challenge and I had always been drawn to portraiture but never felt capable of pulling it off with aerosol. There’s something great in turning a weakness into a strength.”
There’s a mysterious element to the portraits in Transpired Paradise, with the subject’s gaze hinting at some distant wonder or spiritual message. Cicanese says ‘paradise’ is completely subjective, noting he just finished his latest portrait in his parents’ garage.
“Paradise is something that is often chased or searched for among travellers and sub-cultures combined,” he says.
“For me it’s something I am continually trying to create. Not by painting something tangible but by finding happiness in my ability to be creative and having found purpose internally through my artwork; this is paradise.”
As a humanities and social sciences teacher, Cicanese says he is always looking at ways of incorporating murals and public artwork into his lessons.
“I want to use public artwork as an opportunity to break down social barriers between teenagers and the local community by engaging students in the design and painting process,” he says.
“The goal is to help them develop real world experience when developing the skills to produce artwork for a client, which can lead to influencing future career pathways.”
One week out from his debut exhibition, the Greater Fremantle artist says that big is not always better.
“It’s a funny one, I’m always looking for the next big wall but this year I’ve done the opposite and painted the smallest size canvas I can compress aerosol onto!”
Transpired Paradise is at the Moores Building on Henry Street from Friday September 24 to Sunday October 10.
by STEPHEN POLLOCK