Billabong Gallery Collection feat. Luke Taaffe
Luke Taaffe is a psychedelic surf artist whose work is characterized by trippy landscapes, moon-like pinwheels, and random eyeballs staring out from his canvases.
Nicknamed ‘Dingo’, he is quiet and unassuming with a cheeky smile that rolls out with subversive humor once you get to know him. After the success of his first Gallery Collection with Billabong, we’re now dropping a second capsule that’s just as fun, colorful and wonderfully weird.
Here’s a little clip and some Q & A to give you some insight into Luke and his pastel-shaded world…
Luke, you collect random objects on your travels to remind you of the time you found them. What’s a story about one of your favorite items kicking around your shelf?
Last year I bought a small beaded clay head from one of the souks in Morocco which is interesting to look at. The beads that cover these heads come in all different hypercolors, and they reminded me of the laughing clown head game you see at carnivals. I used this as inspiration for a small series of paintings because the seller had a bit of laugh at us while the purchase was made.
You’re often inspired by the places you’ve travelled to. What locations have you bent out of perspective for this collection? Any interesting memories from those particular trips?
The basis of the collection is centered around distorted views of Morocco. The colour palette is reflective of the landscape and the assortment is more graphic driven than the last.
I spent a day in the Atlas Mountains here with some friends last year and had a really good lunch with a local family on their farmhouse roof.
What about your wheels? How did they evolve? When did you start drawing them?
The mandala is something that I’ve incorporated into my work for as long as I can remember. It is mainly used as an element to break up an area of space in a work but is sometimes used to characterize a sun or a place to lead the eye. Initially I used this mandala as an exercise when trying out new brushes and linework techniques with Indian ink.
You listen to music a lot when you paint, last time we hung out it was David Bowie’s Labyrinth soundtrack and lots of Ozzy Osbourne. What are you digging at the moment?
Ponds album from last year ‘The Weather’ & KJazz Radio 88.1
You grew up living/surfing around Australia, now California, and have travelled the world. Where’s your favorite spot and why?
Cadaqués which is located on the Costa Brava of the Mediterranean in Spain. There is no surfing to be had here but it’s where Salvador Dalis home is, and where he drew inspiration for a lot of his works which were surreal images of the nearby coast & landscapes. The restaurants in this small town are great and it’s a really isolated part of the world.
You’ve put together exhibitions with quite a few legends of the surf-art world before, like Peter Webb. How does working with guys like that influence your work, if at all?
I’ve been lucky enough to work with some great artists, through connections within the surf industry.
Peter Webb is an artist I’ve always looked up to. He definitely inspired me to follow a career in using my art and design within the textile industry.
You collect vintage boardshorts. Do you surf in them? Or like to keep them pristine?
No I just keep them smiling on the rack.
What’s up with the eyeballs in your work? Is it like a Mordor, Lord of the Rings influence looking out over the world? Or something even weirder?
It’s just a motif that symbolizes human activity. I introduced this into my work after these travels though the market laneways in Marrakech, where you get this sometimes unnerving sense that people are generally watching your moves.
Finally, who are 3 of your favorite artists that you follow on Instagram that you think others should check out? Why?
Mark Whalen – Marks work is really engaging from a colour perspective and he challenges new mediums regularly- like his latest works, which are chrome aluminum totem poles & wall reliefs.
Paul Davies – He’s given a fresh perspective to the way I look at mid-century architecture. Subject matter like his empty pool inclusions are eerie and beautiful to look at.
Trent Whitehead – His plywood sculptures are meticulously brought together with great color combinations.