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Picture perfect plasters: Sydney street artist, Absurdeus

Next time you’re out in Newtown, taka a particular interest in the walls. Amongst the busy streets and secluded alleyways you may be lucky enough to spot a plastered piece of art by Alex McDonald, AKA Absurdeus.

Sydney street artist, Absurdeus

Known in the art scene by his pseudonym Absurdeus, Alex is bringing more joy and colour to Newtown by pasting his stunning art to the neighbourhood walls.


Q: Your name is very unique and lends a great insight into your work? How did you come up with it?


A: I came up with it while studying philosophy and creative writing at university. I was working on a collection of poetry and narrative prose where I would portray particular philosophical fields as Greek mythological figures. It’s a portmanteau of Absurdism and the character Odysseus. I adopted it as a pseudonym when I started doing paste-ups at the beginning of the pandemic. I’ve always felt glueing original oil paintings to walls is kind of ridiculous, so it seemed like a fitting alias for my street art.

Q: Have you always been an artist? Where did it all begin for you?

A: There’s been a strong artistic and creative community around me for much of my life. My parents ran a studio-gallery-residence called Art Unit back in the 80s, which is where I was born. I got really into visual arts about a decade ago. I was drawn to how effortlessly it allowed the weight of my thoughts to drift away. It’s such a great, meditative way to be present and get out of your own head for a while.

Q: How would you describe your medium and style? What drew you to this form?


A: These days I almost exclusively work with oil paints and pallet knives in my paintings. I was drawn to the sensuality and texture of both the medium and technique of using blades rather than brushes. The extra sensory stimulation helps me to really get lost in the act of painting and embody a creative flow state absent of any higher thought.


Q: You come from a fairly artistic family, your mother famously painted Newtown’s iconic Martin Luther King Jnr mural. How do you feel your family's association with art impacts your practice? Did it challenge you to take a new approach to street art?

A: I see my street art as more of a continuation and blending of both my parents’ approach. Mum painted a whole series of iconic murals around Erskineville, Newtown, and Enmore in the 90s. And Dad used to design and produce these wild triangle posters for exhibitions and gigs, which ended up pasted up around town.


Growing up in an artistic environment definitely made it easier to just take up a creative practice on a whim, regardless of field or medium, and pursue it for no more than the enjoyment it gives me to make something. My parents and their friends were a very positive example of the freedom, joy, and community that can come from art in that regard.

Sydney street artist, Absurdeus

Q: Who or what is your biggest inspiration and/or mentor?


A: Probably my mum and my mental health, if I’m being honest. My single biggest motivation to paint is how peaceful I find it as a pastime. It’s incredibly meditative and helps me to emotionally regulate. Painting regularly makes it much easier for me to navigate all that life throws my way with a clearer, calmer mind.


Mum was a great source of inspiration for me to take up creative practice more consistently and follow it through for no more reason than to see where it might go. She couldn’t stop herself from being creative and making art if she tried. She’s been

artistically relentless and innovative longer than I’ve been around


Q: Lately, your plastered pieces have centred around vibrant floral designs. Why do you think this is the case?

A: I paint bright florals far, far more than anything else. I don’t want to think about what I’m painting, and I want to avoid as much higher thought as possible when I paint. I find thoughts get in the way of losing myself in process, and injures the therapeutic effect of being aimlessly artful as an act in itself.


Among the sheer variety of flowers can be found every colour, shape, and gesture. That’s why they became my go-to subject matter. I don’t have to think about them, or at the very least they lend themselves to the meditative and expressive approach to painting I’ve come to enjoy so much in the last few years.


Q: What’s your relationship to Sydney and the inner west?

A: I’ve lived most of my life in the Inner West. I’m actually named after the suburb of Alexandria, which is where I was born at Art Unit. I have a great affection for a lot of the suburbs around the Inner West, it was such an awesome place to grow up as a borderline feral street kid in the 80s and 90s.

Q: How do you decide where to paste/share your art? What are your goals regarding changing the space they occupy?

A:. When the pandemic began, a number of friends told me how much joy they were getting from discovering the nooks and crannies and little details hidden around the suburbs they lived in. I had dozens and dozens of works sitting around, so I figured I could help bring some novelty and brightness to the neighbourhood by sharing my art in public. It’s really all snowballed from there, I know it still brings a lot of happiness to people when they stumble upon my art scattered around the city

Over the years deciding where to put my art has become an extension of the same approach I take to the act of painting itself. It’s all about feeling, less about thinking. I’ll pick a suburb and then spend hours wandering around until walls or locations leap out and tickle my intuition, and then up goes a painting. I am trying to get out of my comfortable Inner West bubble more often these days though.


Q: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know - any future

showcases, etc, you’d like to promote?

A: I’m currently curating an exhibition for GoodSpace Gallery at the Lord Gladstone in Chippendale on July 3rd, where I’ll be showing my stuff with several other local artists, alongside my mum’s new sculptural work. The best place to find my work or contact me is Instagram under the name Absurdeus. I’ve pasted up over 350 original oil paintings in public since early 2020, and don’t intend to stop anytime soon.


To keep up with Absurdeus and all of his artistic adventures, you can follow him on Instagram and keep an eye out for his artwork on the streets!


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