All art is ephemeral. Melbourne street artist Rone embraces the fact. Paste-ups plastered on tower-blocks peel and fade, and the abandoned warehouses where he crafts his giant murals are demolished or fall apart of their own accord.
In his latest project, a large-scale installation in a secret location in the city’s north, Rone heightens that sense of decay to almost cinematic proportions. “I think that things are at their most beautiful when they’re really fragile,” he says. “I try to play on that idea, trying to make something that’s quite often ugly or in a state of disrepair to highlight the beauty in it.”
Called The Omega Project, the artwork spans every room of a condemned home, with Rone’s distinctive portraits painted over disintegrating wallpaper and two-tone paint. “I always use the colours of the wall I’m painting for the portrait I make,” Rone explains. “This space was a challenge – a green and blue wall mixed together, how do I make that into something that really works and holds together as something beautiful?”
Once Rone started painting he sensed something was missing. So he brought in his friend, stylist Carly Spooner, to recreate the archetypal mid-century Australian home interior, with chenille bedspreads and a wood-grained TV. “It feels like you’re walking onto a film set. There’s definitely something storybook about it,” he says. “You may not feel like you’re in someone’s real home, but it is quite transportive.”
Though Rone’s work is increasingly appearing on walls by commission, and in traditional gallery spaces, this distinctly personal piece could only exist outside of those institutional structures. “The work itself is the space that people can go and experience. I really love this idea of getting away from a gallery,” Rone says. “It feels like you’re walking into a painting rather than looking at a painting.”
The process of working with a stylist has pushed Rone to consider his work as both an installation and a photograph, not just painting. “It felt like I was painting with a hammer when I was roughing something up, or throwing dust around,” he says. “I realised with that installation process, I can do so much more than I can with just painting a wall. I definitely want to pursue this.”
But despite the months of planning and painting that have gone into The Omega Project, the work will only exist for a week before it’s destroyed forever. Visitors can tour the Rone House before it disappears; registered guests will receive an email directing them to the as-yet undisclosed location the morning of the event.
“It was kind of a beautiful home. That’s what made it even sadder that it was going. I am emphasising the fact it was its last moment,” Rone says. “For people that come and see it, it's hopefully an experience that’s going to be treasured.”
The Omega Project runs from Saturday July 22 to Sunday July 30, 12pm to 5pm. Visit r-o-n-e.com to RSVP.. A film about the artist, RONE, will make it’s world premiere at MIFF, screening as part of the festival's virtual reality series. More information here.