The best thing about painting portraits is learning about the people I meet, and the country they live in. It takes me to places I never expected to go.
Matt Adnate was born on the 29 August 1984 in Montrose, Victoria.
As a child and teenager, Matt embraced every aspect of urban street culture including graffiti, music, clothes and skateboarding.
After completing school, he became Matt Adnate or just ‘Adnate’ – a name drawn from the Italian poet Dante Alighieri. Soon after leaving school, the dream of a career in street art came to fruition as a local Real estate commissioned him to paint a mural on a wall of its premises in North Melbourne. This first commission led to further projects up and down the busy restaurant precinct in Lygon Street, Carlton – works that included Tuscan scenes of landscapes, terracotta pots, Italian statues and elegantly shaped cypress trees. With a newfound passion for culture, Adnate moved to Spain 2007 for several years. He lived and worked in the cosmopolitan city of Barcelona – an epicentre of European street art and immersed himself in the graffiti scene.
He collaborated with six artists from 2006-2014, collectively named The AWOL (A Way Of Life) Crew. For several years they painted many large-scale murals in the Melbourne suburbs of Brunswick, Fitzroy and Collingwood. The crew was prolific and the collaborations were progressive, combining abstraction, portraiture and surrealism.
As Adnate’s reputation grew, he received invitations to paint murals and travel all over the world including Germany, India, South Africa and the USA. He found that during these times of cultural immersion, he was particularly drawn to each country’s first nation peoples. He describes how:
All first nation people have a similar story of displacement because of colonisation, genocide and loss of culture. But all these people have stories of resistance and survival. Their stories became a fundamental element in my decision to embrace the first nation people where ever I travelled.
Before embarking on a portrait of a First Nations person, Adnate first seeks advice in consultation with community elders. The process is sensitive, based on trust and consultation. In many cases, Adnate collaborates further with the community by conducting workshops where he teaches people how to mix colours and use spray cans to produce art.
Upon receiving a grant from the Victorian State Government and in collaboration with Juddy Roller, Adnate painted a twenty-story housing commission building in Collingwood, Melbourne in 2018. Celebrating the local multicultural community, he chose four subjects who live in the building with the aim of imbuing pride in the residents. For the opening of The Adnate in Perth, the artist completed the world’s largest mega-mural along the entire side of one building, depicting local residents from the area.
Matt Adnate exhibits his work internationally, in large-scale murals on the streets and in galleries. His work can be viewed in London, Paris, Berlin, New York, Barcelona, Melbourne and now Perth.