Will Coles was an artist intensely misunderstood by his audience not because it had trouble understanding him, but because there is more to love than 140 characters. His pop sculptures - plaster remote controls, mobile phones, televisions - made him well-known in the street art ecosphere. For years they littered cities and were a means of "breaking swizzle" from the restrictions that being an emerging gallery artist imposed.
Applauded within the Sydney street art hierarchy for enthusiastic vandalism of public space, Coles built up a devoted following - some may call it cult - of educated left-leaning art groupies and professional protesters who disliked "fine art" but enjoyed satiric, subversive and accessible jibes at consumerism.
Having once declined to be interviewed by Acid Midget, it has been difficult for this blog to "understand the man" that Coles had inside of him. It was easier to track his professional ascension after he achieved mid-level fame while exhibiting at the Outpost Project (pictured) in Sydney last year.
Although the DIY method was a staple of his long but short career, Coles trained at no less than three art schools - Ravensbourne College of Art, Wimbledon School of Art and Glasgow School of Art - after growing up in Suffolk in the UK. He brought a solid understanding of classical sculpture to his work, citing Michelangelo and Rodin as inspirations, while also employing conceptual and Postmodern techniques in his studio pieces.
Yet the mystery remains - why was Will Coles misunderstood? Perhaps we will never know.
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