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Interview with James Lesjak-Atton

A chat with an extraordinary young artist


We’ve had the pleasure of chatting with James Lesjak-Atton, who’s been generous enough to donate a simply spectacular new courtyard wall mural to our Subsonic Music community at our favourite Sydney stomping ground The Bridge Hotel in Rozelle. His works are bursting with colourful energetic elements and abstract compositions, which as you know is right up our street, and his values couldn’t be more aligned to ours. We urge you to check out his work when you’re at The Bridge Hotel next.

What are you up to recently in Sydney? We’ve heard you’ve been pretty busy?

Wow what a pleasure it has been! First of all thanks for having me on board, it has been a nice start to spring painting the courtyard wall of the Bridge Hotel. I grew up in Balmain and how times have changed. I am absolutely delighted Subsonic Music has rejuvenated the place with their all night parties and good vibes. Yeah so the last couple of weeks for myself have been crazy. My art studio which I’ve had for the last couple of years has come to an end but a new laboratory is in the works and we should be moving in by October. I’ve got some grand projects in motion that a blank studio will welcome with open arms. These project I shall leave as a surprise for now, I’ll be popping up further infos on my facebook page early next year so keep your eyes peeled!

You’re known as “Aqua Man” around Sydney, how did you get that name?

Haha ‘Aquaman’ was actually a bit of a tease by some of my best mates back in highschool (there is no need to explain the origins of this name 😉 ), that eventually I adopted when the time came for an alter ego. I have also loved illustration, in particular bold graphics of comics and cartoons that I have been watching since the days of cheez tv.

What made you become an artist?

I’ve realised that creating is really important to my happiness. I have an instinct to put paint on a surface, doodle, draw shapes or make marks (if you’re lucky enough to know me you probably realise I’m a bit of a pain in the arse when I’m unable to do so). I feel like I don’t know what else I would have been other than an artist. I guess I am also fortunate enough to have worked with some of my idols and artists that I have followed since I first started drawing, artists and inspirations including the likes of Fintan Magee, Rodney Monk and the fellas down at ambush gallery; Bill and John. Over the years I guess these people have convinced me that creating can be a very rewarding and possible in life.

How would you describe your art? What is it all about?

I guess the most important aspects of my work are about play and process. My paintings could be described as abstract illustrations,which begin as a game commonly known as Mr. Squiggle. The works are heavily influenced by the likes of Dr. Suess, Japanese prints, graffiti (in particular since 2000 onwards) and much more. My more recent works have delved into material qualities and appearances, things that catch the eye and make you want to understand what exactly makes it appear the way it does.

What does music mean to you?

Music has always been a huge part of my life, I guess some of the earliest memories I have are from various festivals, concerts and dodgy dive pubs my mother would drag my sister and I along to. Mötley Crüe at aged 13 is quite the stand out, piercing mine and my mates innocent ears even through earplugs provided by the security guards. My rock and roll parents still go harder than I do, putting my 24 year old hangovers to shame. I guess in my family it is astounding that we didn’t become musicians, but I would still have to say music is present in every aspect of my life. And I wouldn’t have it any other way…

Thanks for having me on board Subsonic Music and thanks for the interview!

You can check out more of James’ works on his website.

Management of The Bridge Hotel were so pleased with James’ work that they’ve asked him to paint the entire courtyard shortly after he completed his mural. It’s quite the sight, so do come and check it out soon 🙂

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