Mike Makatron Cycles Through the Natural and the Artificial

By Alexandra Dane

Cycles is the latest exhibition from Melbourne painter and street artist Mike Makatron. Playfully juxtaposing the natural and the artificial, the exhibition explores the themes of life, death, growth and decay. We sat down with Makatron to discuss the collection and Melbourne’s street art scene.

Who or what are your biggest influences when you are painting?
Mike Makatron: I try to look within, more than search for influences but I take influences from so many different artists or movements I think that if I mentioned just a few it wouldn’t really be relevant for long. Travelling, music, nature, animals and other art all count as influences.

It has been said that your work is a “visual riot that stimulates the mind.” How would you like people to react and be affected by your work?
I don’t aim to create with other people’s reaction in the front of my mind. I do think that there is something positive when people don’t like my work as it means there is something powerful enough to polarize a certain type of person and also I would hope it means it is not generically liked by the masses. I would hope this means it has the opposite effect and a small amount of people really enjoy it and feel something from it. It is interesting to see people who really react strongly, sometimes even feeling something stronger than I do which is great, its encouraging.

Melbourne has a bit of a love/hate relationship with street art. What is your take on the popularization of street art in Melbourne’s lane ways?
Overall, it’s a really positive thing; Melbourne is fairly strong with the amount of street art and the standard [of the art]. I think this is partly due to the urban design with the amount of alleyways and warehouses in the city and inner suburbs, partly due to the stencil boom of early 2000′s where it opened up a lot of peoples minds to the art side of illegal markings, and partly because, for me, Melbourne is more opened minded than some cities, and has various personalities of neighborhoods. For example Fitzroy and Collingwood people generally don’t care or they enjoy it, or maybe have given up fighting against it. There is always a negative side to popularization of anything, it becomes uncool is some way, or people sell out or change or you have to put dollar amounts to things, but I try not to worry about these things.

Bees feature heavily in your upcoming exhibition. How does the bee reflect your interpretation of Cycles?
Bees have an interesting society, with roles within their colony and strange habits, unique communication, kamikaze reactions and a massive role in our food production. The title Cycles is about these things which change but return. I read once that there is a theory that humans will die out and the bees will become the dominant species, and there is another theory that with this Mayan calendar ending there will be a new era we enter, which will be a matriarchal society, which relates to bee’s society, but that is getting a lot deeper than I intend with the title, its also because I like bikes.

How did your travels in Brazil and Africa influence this collection?
Traveling has always opened my eyes to different ways to paint or see the world. I painted a lot of bees the first month in Brazil, then got sick of doing that, but I did paint a few in Africa on my last week there. But I guess there has been a lot of personal changes in my life the last six months; ending a long term relationship, travelling solo for a while, and growing in some emotional ways. I think these changes are somehow reflected in my work. In many ways I’m trying to regress in skill, almost become worse and more instinctual, like a kid painted parts.

What is the one thought you would like people to take away after viewing this collection of pieces?
“What goes on inside that guy’s head…?”

Cycles, 27 November – 3 December, House of Bricks, 40 Budd Street Collingwood