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Street/gallery artist Jacob Yikes’ exhibition at Fiksate in Sydenham represents more than two years of studio work.  In conversation with Warren Feeney, he highlights the differences and boundaries between his street-art murals and paintings, their dissimilarities being fundamental to his commitment to both aspects of his arts practice.  Sharing distinct agendas and ideologies, he comments:  ‘The extroverted painter is the one outdoors and the paintings are the indoor ones and they are introverted - that painter outdoors  is Yikes.’    

‘Over the years I have always tried to be present in both, although lot of outdoor works tend to take over and the studio takes a bit of a back seat. As a painter, I use to do a lot of work on paper and now I have started working predominantly on board.  I felt that with the paper works I was limited.  So what I use now is a combination of a metallic ink mixed into heavy gesso and high gloss acrylic paint, they change colours from certain angles.  Everything in the paintings looks very flat and I take a more abstracted approach to them as well.    In terms of the outdoor murals, I see it as a very different approach.  I have taken things from outdoors and tried to replicate them, but I don’t use spray paint cans for the paintings.  It is all brushwork.’   

‘For the outdoors there has to be a level of impact and that is achieved by scale.  The studio stuff, I do not need to do that, but I do like using larger scale.  Because of my background in illustration I have always jumped between both.  The two feed off each other but they are separate as well.  I have a split personality with them.  I work alone in the studio, and outdoors I have to accommodate other things.  When I finish the outdoor works, I walk away from them.  With the studio stuff, even after I have been trying to pick them apart myself, I see it as a being a very long process.  The outdoor works are just a couple of weeks.’

‘The stuff in the studio is more interesting.  There is no restriction and with a painting I will stay with it for a while and meditate until something comes to me, and I will work on two or three paintings at a time.  The Studio stuff is more about control and painting in my studio is therapeutic.’

‘To prepare the background, the scale, colour schemes and the subjects of my paintings, I don’t begin by sketching it out.  I don’t think I could.  I have this notion that I need to let it paint itself.  I am the tool.  I find it more enjoyable to paint in that moment and there is never a finishing line. They each reach a point where more might be too much, so having a couple of paintings going at once is best.  I will stop and leave it and come back to it.  

Then there are paintings when something goes wrong and it doesn’t sit well with me - and I can’t leave it.’  

‘I always work with a landscape subject in a portrait format.  Now more than ever my landscapes have a cinematic feeling, a representation and strange self portrait and extension of myself.  The smaller paintings have a landscape structure, but not of this world and very alien and that comes down to some of the ideas behind them.   What it is to be human in this date and age.’  


Jacob Yikes, Even in darkness

Fiksate, 54 Hawdon Street, Sydenham

1 – 30 April


  1. Jacob Yikes, no body’s home, metallic ink and acrylic paint on board
  2. Jacob Yikes, Drag them between worlds, metallic ink and acrylic paint on board


Jacob Yikes- Street Art, Painting and Split Personalities

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