RONE: The DaVinci Code

Australian graffiti artist and illustrator Rone spends half of his days looking for the right girl. And the other half, stenciling and painting them.

Words: Marjua Estevez & Aimstar

Rone, an original member of the Everfresh Studio from the burgeoning stencil art movement of the early 2000s. Over the years the now famed artist reached street acclaim for plastering large canvases depicting faces of “girls” throughout the urban centers of Australia, London, New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Tokyo, Barcelona and Hong Kong. These girls—seemingly translucent, yet ironically, porcelain-like—often times offer slight pouty lips and large telling eyes that make the experience all the more enchanting.

On the surface, Rone’s approach may appear to veer sharply left from the traditional discipline DaVinci used to create the “Mona Lisa”. However, Rone’s first solo show unveils some underlying indirect similarities that imply something a little different. Aptly named L’Inconnue de la Rue, Rone’s show—loosely based on the stages of grief which he says, “I guess could be considered a love story”— plays on the real life tale of L’Inconnue de la Seine, a young woman whose strikingly-beautiful face was cast onto the pages of the literati and artisan walls during the late 1800s, after she died mysteriously in the Seine river in Paris. Yes, her face, porcelain-like, saying nothing, but revealing much, was often compared to DaVinci’s portrait of Lisa Gherardini, and afforded the unidentified woman the nickname, “The Dead Mona Lisa”, because of her enigmatic, yet “happy” smile. And Rone’s “girl” is no different. She wears no definitive expression on her face, something onlookers may sense as sadness, loneliness, indifference or perhaps, indicative of one who is contemplative. “I like to leave it open for everyone to make their own story or connection…” Rone reveals.

Forced to go just a bit deeper than his slightly deteriorated image, simple stencil, mod paint and dripping sprays, Rone’s often streetside audience is inspired to explore the story that he is telling through his work. Whether hiding under an overpass or in different alleys in various neighborhoods around the world, his work hints at the notion that his art rests in the appreciation of all beauty, aesthetically pleasing or not. When asked about this, Rone says it simply. “I like to explore the idea of making things that are decaying, torn, dripping, messy— that come together as something beautiful.”

He prefers to focus on the face alone, he explains, because he “likes the way it draws you into the image and gives you a feeling of closeness.” Eager to know if Rone is simply wearing his heart on his sleeve, if the artist, himself, is in-love with the object of his massive portraits, he assures us that, no, his art is not of any unique personal experience of unrequited love, but one that he hopes that all will find resonates with them at the heart. Presently, Rone is traveling. He is now somewhere in the Powwow region of Hawaii, with upcoming exhibits in Melbourne, London and San Francisco slated later for this year.

For more information on Rone, visit his site HERE.

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