The Humble Champion of Adelaide Street Art

Discover the ode of love being painted across Adelaide streets Vans The Omega. After this gallery, you’ll never see our streets the same way.


The streets of Adelaide have evolved dramatically over recent years as the proliferation of street art, commissioned and illegal, have made for alleyways and building sides where the brick walls often stare back at us as we walk on by.

If you have found yourself gazing upon grand scale colourful portraits of strangers (you know the one’s we mean), then you have more than likely already met locally based, internationally renown Mural artist Vans The Omega in the most personal way. The faces portrayed in these paintings are of people who the artist is passionate about, usually because they hold a passion and talent of their own.

You see, it is easier for Vans to be inspired by the inspired; to be more attached to his work if he is in some way attached to the subject and their story. The result of this passion, both his and theirs, stops people in their tracks to reach for their camera phones, blown away by not only the sheer size of the works, but their colour, realism and of course Vans’ own unique style.

These pieces in particular give the viewer a nice overview of all of his artistic druthers – straight edge geometrics, graffiti patterns and hard lines plus a realistic portrait style approach with shading elements and patterns that come from a culmination of a fashion design background mixed in with a graffiti upbringing. VTO’s Grandma was the first person to get a young Omega interested in art, exposing him to a world of different visual mediums such as watercolours, etching, charcoals and oils. This combined with the benefits of being a child of the late 70’s to 80’s, the pre-technology era where art needed to be created by the human hand, and some long trips along the Glenelg tram lines to view walls and walls of Adelaide’s graffiti offerings, well and truly planted the seed. As he explains, the graffiti had an instant effect on the artist, “The idea of something that was so poppy and colourful and the scale of the paintings, which is weird because back in the 80’s pieces weren’t really that large and they were only about four colours, the primary colours all very Rastafarian looking with green and yellow, black outline, white highlights, I immediately went home and tried to replicate and remember what I had seen.”

After 21 days straight and clocking up 230 hours of work to get this finished under some extreme weather conditions I can finally say this project for #commonground is complete. Thanks to all the people that gave me encouragement along the way after 12 hour days this really helped get me over the line and helped me push through fatigue, sea legs from spending all day on a lifter and exhaustion. A special thanks to my bro @epykbg for helping me out on the first few days on the geometry and for the laughs. The title of this work is Hemispheres and is a representation of the masculine and feminine. In a perfect world there is balance of the 2 even through they are completely unique they each hold the key to each other. The mother and child represent the 2 hemispheres of the brain amongst the supporting energy of the geometry which is close to mirror but not quite. The child represents the future and is holding the knowledge of past and present which is symbolised by the colourful top he wears. The patterns, geometries and colour all contain information and are keys to a balanced life. Thank you to Roberta and Pauly for being my portrait models and to the residents of common ground for all the well wishes and support. #7stories #radelaide #Adelaidecity @ironlak @sugarartistacrylics #TMD #F1 #GM #vanstheomega

A photo posted by @vanstheomega on

As the eighties became the nineties, and graffiti culture started to blend more and more into other cultures around Adelaide such as music and the skate/surf scene, The Omega’s obsession grew as he worked on learning the craft. “I was recreating skateboard graphics, my parents couldn’t afford a pro deck so I would get a Kmart one, sand it down, a paint a Jason Jessee graphic on it.” Lettering became a fascination for the young artist as he looked more to trucks, planes, architecture and nature for influences to bring back into his graffiti. As with any budding artist, all of this practice and study was slowly formulating into a unique style, “My pieces became aircrafts, polished, mechanical pieces, very sleek like they are moving fast through a space and I pushed it that way very purposefully.”

The obsession, meticulous study, and above all the quality of each work led to Vans The Omega becoming one of the prominent figures in the local art scene, venturing regularly to not only other states to exhibit his works, but other countries as well. It doesn’t hurt that “street art” – a term that Vans does not use – has grown increasingly popular and even more importantly, acceptable. “Prior to the early days of graffiti and murals turning up in Australia, there was no other precedence of buildings being trashed, there was only political or war art and scenic murals commissioned, there was never the idea that you had to accept something that had been vandalised and then had to supersede it with something that looks nicer, painted by the people who vandalised it in the first place.” Nowadays however, you will be hard pressed to find a wall that doesn’t contain some sort of graffiti, be it commissioned or not. This acceptance in VTO’s opinion comes down to the simple fact that people understand elements of graffiti muralism now, with councils recognising the gentrification benefits as well.

Eyes on the prize. The first half of the wall is complete down at #glenelg #vanstheomega

A photo posted by @vanstheomega on

Whilst this is all great for business, some artists may feel that the popularity and acceptance of graffiti does take some of the elements away from the original idea. For Vans The Omega though, it is a very personal thing, he never took a spray can to a wall to vandalise it, it was always about the beauty in the art form. Whatever situation will allow him to produce his best possible work is his ideal one, and our streets, walls and above all eyes, are better for it.

Follow Vans The Omega’s incredible work via Instagram and his Facebook.

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