In Conversation: Reko Rennie

A punk, a rebel and a connoisseur, artist Reko Rennie discusses the power of perspective, expression of identity and why he thrashed a Rolls-Royce Corniche on Country.

By Noelle Faulkner 06/01/2023

A punk, a rebel and a connoisseur, artist Reko Rennie discusses the power of perspective, expression of identity and why he thrashed a Rolls-Royce Corniche on Country.

While the contemporary art world may not be lacking in rebellion, intellect and chutzpah, few artists can lay claim to the centre of a Venn diagram merging all.

Reko Rennie is such a man. Except that this Kamilaroi/Gamilaraay/Gamilaroi artist also manages to throw cool, beauty and an unforgettable, haunting precision into the frame as well.
Rennie’s geometric patterns, abstract camouflage, words of remembrance, fierce warriors and neon designs inherited from his grandmother have found acclaim and achieved rightful cut through – beamed across the Sydney Opera House’s sails, laid on a basketball court in Melbourne, hung in the sky in Sydney, flanking the starting line (and Daniel Ricciardo’s helmet) at the Melbourne Grand Prix and found in almost every state gallery collection in the country.

With a diverse output that explores his identity as an Aboriginal man, dismantles and questions the status quo and shines a bright light on Australia’s dark history for future betterment, Rennie is carving his neon-hued mark on culture with a razor-sharp edge.

You grew up in the inner-west Melbourne suburb of Footscray in the 70s and 80s, at a time when a lot of activism was taking place —unionism, Aboriginal land rights, feminism and significant political change. How did this steer you towards being an artist?  

I got into art by doing graffiti. That was my thing; I got great joy out of writing my name in places illegally. Footscray was a very working-class, multicultural community, and a bunch of us didn’t have much. You saw how others were treated by law and police, and I always had a bit of a strained relationship with their attitudes towards me, as a young Aboriginal kid. All those things make you question the system.

What also resonated with me was the political art movement of the time that was responding to everything going on and it was crudely being illustrated with a can of paint and a brush. I started seeing a lot of that around Melbourne and thought, ‘How cool is it that people are writing shit on the walls, writing comments and statements? I want to do that.’It gave me all these early skills in navigating how to express myself. Those were fundamentally important aspects of childhood and rebelling against the system; skills and experiences that I could then combine with my identity and my family’s narrative and use as fire to create a political and visual artistic language.

Rennie’s vibrant paintings at Station Gallery, Melbourne

It makes sense considering much of your work today relates to memory, identity and remembrance of who came before, not unlike how graffiti can say, I was here, and you cant take that away from me.

That’s right — remember me. Remember the history of this country. We’re a multicultural, multifaceted, unique community of various language groups and artistic practices representing the oldest continuing living culture in the world. Our identity has been dumbed down so much by Western European ideologies, but all that’s changing. Our generation is now seeing all these beautifully vocal and empowered communities speak out because there’s so much to unpack here in this country. That’s why it’s important to acknowledge the past and present, move into the future, and be empowered to do so.

Is it hard to walk the line of communicating the ancient importance of Aboriginal culture and history with that of what it means to be an Aboriginal man in todays society?

It can be problematic. But you realise you’re contributing to something much bigger, a message that can raise awareness, inform through art, or share a particular message, and there’s beauty in that. I was once a journalist and I thought I’d be able to empower and change how Aboriginal people were portrayed in mass media; obviously so naive and powerless in that mainstream media world. But through art I’ve had this amazing voice where I could share work, opinions, and expressions of form and identity around the world. It’s a really beautiful thing, and it evolves. That’s what drives me.

Remember Me text installation at Sydney’s Carriageworks; Totemic, also at Station Gallery.

Youve risen and risen in the art world. Whats that experience been like? 

It’s funny, weirdly, because in this country, it’s tough to break into art. There are so many gatekeepers and so much bullshit nepotism —and it really is a jingoistic kind of nepotism. So that frustrated me. I had a few people say, ‘You can do this, you can’t do that’; ‘You’ve got to do this and not that … when someone tells me I can’t do something or is negative about my work, it fuels me more to prove them wrong.

Remember Me
text installation at Sydney’s Carriageworks; Totemic, also at Station Gallery.

Was there a ‘breakthrough moment’?

I went to Paris and did a residency [at Cite Internationale des Artes in 2009], and for some reason, that legitimised my career as an artist here —it was that thing of, ‘oh, he’s gone to Paris. I had won a couple of awards, held shows, but then, ABC did a story on me over there, and it blew up. In those early days, I couldn’t afford art magazines —I used to go to the NGV, have a coffee, take a little notebook, and go through the magazines and write down all the up-and-coming curators. Using my journalistic research skills, I would send out 40-50 emails a week, and every now and then, I’d get a hit, and get invited to do a project overseas. And I’d pay for it all myself, take out a credit card and invest in myself, and that’s what paid off for me: doing things overseas. What then happened back here, galleries and institutions started to take notice of me. It was pretty interesting.

Youve got a future residency at the American Academy Rome. How would you describe the  international attitude to contemporary Aboriginal art right now?  

People are really interested and the work is always well-received. I think when you’re talking about loss of identity, land, culture and language; or persecution of identity and cross-generational trauma, it’s a very relatable story. Because at some point in history, people have had that experience as well. So it’s an unfortunately common narrative around the world, and that’s where we can share a bond and a connection.

The shared global sadness of displacement and memory is increasingly relevant. How do you explore themes like this in your process and work? 

Thinking about loss and memory and creating work from that is really multilayered. My video work with the Rolls-Royce [OA_RR, 2017] talks about my grandmother’s experience of being eight years old and taken from her family, made to be a slave, working for rations on a pastoral station where there was systematic abuse by pastoralists. People don’t talk about that. That’s why I made that Rolls work. I was reclaiming that symbol of colonial power, wealth and royalty. Those who drove those cars would have Aboriginal people removed from their families as slaves, and then they’d drive to church on Sunday and be absolved of their sins. And this was systemic in Australia, not just in one geographic location. So going back to an ex-pastoral station, taking a cool, ’73 Rolls-Royce Corniche on Country painted in a geometric camouflage, with line work and symbolism that comes from my family area [Kamilaroi] and which I designed to talk to the fact our people had to conceal who they were, it was a declaration of identity. I was saying, ‘I’m proud of who I am and where I come from and all of those who came before me. It’s my right to show and declare that. I don’t want to blend in.’ So we shot it, did some burnouts, and took all the notions of my misspent youth driving cars in the west and put those skills to work, which I did.

Thats not the only work to feature you in a hotted-up car. 2021’s follow-up Initiation_OA sees you cruising around your old stomping ground in a Holden Monaro, another strong white Australia symbol, albeit with an Aboriginal name. Where’d this love of cars come from?

I’m really attracted to the design aspects of a car and I love classics. At the moment, I only have a three-litre, Australian-delivered Porsche ’77 Targa and a Cayenne GTS, which is my studio car, but I’ve had Alfas, Valiants, Hondas, and lots of different cars, as well as bikes over the years.
I’m actually looking for another thing to paint, maybe a Porsche? But heavy car culture was something I grew up with. There was this whole thing about hotting up cars —old Monaros, Commodore VH SLEs, Alfa Romeos, V8 Interceptors —and a lot of pride and community existed around customising cars. But they were also a symbol of success and aspiration, and there was a weird symbology related to the car too.

Painted Rolls- Royce challenges colonialism in the Outback.

Growing up in the west was pretty wild and heavy in trauma from seeing a lot of things, and it was a certain type of person who drove a Monaro. There is a lot of toxic masculinity associated with those cars as well. I wanted to reclaim all that with a pink, sparkly car and go through these urban landscapes, where I was taught a lot of lessons; that was my form of initiation. And yes, I wanted to reclaim the name, too. That’s why I picked it.

Hotted-up, pink Holden Monaro questions toxic masculinity.

On reclaiming space and looking back to your early days as a graffiti artist, how does it feel now to see your work in almost as many public spaces as institutions built on colonial ideals?  

It also comes back to growing up doing stuff out on the street—it’s free for everyone to see. A lot of the work I do, at times, goes into a gallery or an institution, and there’s a particular clientele that sees it. I grew up poor, in a working-class environment and many can relate to that. So I want my art to be seen by people from all aspects of society, not just the wealthy. But it’s also important that in a public environment, too, you have the freedom to say and do things with space and form. That’s an important aspect of having a voice. With the projection on the Opera House, they wanted all this nice, easy stuff, and I did a really powerful symbolic statement of the warrior. That didn’t go down too well. Luckily, I had a few people fight for me, and it went ahead as this proud declaration of identity and history. I think public spaces are great for making those statements, and I love to do that. But also, because in the past, our people were denied the opportunity to contribute to wider society, it’s crucial to occupy those spaces, be vocal and be present. I’ve had people say to me, ‘don’t dream so big’, and I just think, ‘why the fuck not? Who are you to stop me?’ We have to be present in all aspects of society because we were denied so much in the past. 


Subscribe to the Newsletter

Stay Connected

You may also like.

Gentlemanly Restraint 

Art and science collide in the the newly released BR03A watch collection by Bell & Ross.

By Belinda Aucott 02/11/2023

In keeping with the brand’s design salute to aviation and military equipment, the pared-back face of the Bell & Ross BR03 Automatic takes its cue from the instrumentation in cockpits. It’s unabashedly minimal and confidently masculine style is set to make it a future classic.

Faithful to the codes that underpin the brand’s identity, the new utilitarian offerings sit within a smaller 41-mm case (a slight departure from the original at 42 mm Diver, Chrono or GMT.) and has a reduced lug width and slimmer hands. The changes extend to the watch movement, which has been updated with a BR-CAL.302 calibre. The watch is waterproof to 300 metres and offers a power reserve of 54 hours.

While the new collection offers an elegant sufficiency of colourways, from a stealthy black to more decorative bronze face with a tan strap, each is a faithful rendition of the stylish “rounded square, four-screw” motif that is Bell & Ross’s calling card.



For extra slickness, the all-black Phantom and Nightlum models have a stealthy, secret-agent appeal, offering up a new take on masculine restraint.

Yet even the more decorative styles, like the black face with contrasting army-green band, feel eminently versatile and easy to wear. The 60’s simplicity and legibility of the face is what makes it so distinctive and functional.

For example, the BR 03-92 Nightlum, with its black matte case and dial, and bright green indices and hands, offers a great contrast during the day and emits useful luminosity at night.

A watch that begs to be read, the the BR03-A stands up to scrutiny, and looks just as good next to a crisp, white cuff as it does at the end of a matte, black wetsuit.

That’s a claim not many watch collections can make. 

Explore the collection.

Buy the Magazine

Subscribe today

Stay Connected

Timeless Glamour & Music Aboard The Venice Simplon-Orient Express

Lose yourself in a luxury journey, aboard an Art Deco train from Paris

By Belinda Aucott 03/11/2023

Watching the unseen corners of Europe unfold gently outside your train, window can be thirsty work, right? That’s why Belmond Hotels is once again staging a culinary train journey from Paris to Venice, aboard the glittering Art Deco carriages of the Venice Simplon-Orient Express.

To celebrate diversity and inclusion in the LBTQ+ community, another unforgettable train ride is slated for 2 November.

On the journey, ample servings of decadent cuisine will be served and live entertainment will play looooong into the night. Trans-DJ Honey Dijon and Dresden’s Purple Disco Machine are both part of the disco-house line-up.

Passengers are encouraged to dress in black-tie or cocktail attire, before they head to the bar and dining carriages to enjoy their night, where they are promised ‘unapologetic extravagance’,.

Negronis, martinis, spritzes and sours will all be on offer as the sunlight fades.

So-hot-right-now French chef Jean Imbert is also in the kitchen rattling the pans for guests.

Imber puts a garden-green-goodness twist on Gallic traditions. He regularly cooks for the who’s-who. Imbert recently co-created a food concept for Dior in Paris, worked with Pharrell Williams to present a dinner in Miami, and he’s even been invited to Cheval Blanc St-Barth to cater luxe LVMH-owned property.

The young chef is vowing to create no less than ‘culinary perfection’ in motion with his own passion for fresh seasonal produce. There’ll be plenty of Beluga caviar, seared scallops, and lobster vol-au-vents.

“I want to create beautiful moments which complement the train, which is the true star,” says Imbert of his hands-on approach to delectable pastries and twists on elegant Euro classics.

“Its unique legacy is something we take pride in respecting, while evolving a new sense of style and purpose that will captivate a new generation.”

Check the timetable for the itinerary of lush inclusions here.

Buy the Magazine

Subscribe today

Stay Connected

First Drive: The Porsche 911 S/T Is a Feral Beast That Handles the Road Like an Olympic Bobsledder

The commemorative model borrows underpinnings from the GT3 RS and includes a 518 hp engine.

By Basem Wasef 23/10/2023

The soul of any sports car comes down to the alchemy of its tuning—how the engine, suspension, and chassis blend into a chorus of sensations. The secret sauce of the new Porsche 911 S/T, developed as a tribute to the 60th anniversary of the brand’s flagship model, is more potent than most; in fact, it makes a serious case for being the most driver-focused 911 of all time.

Sharing the S/T designation with the homologation special from the 1960s, the (mostly) innocuously styled commemorative model borrows underpinnings from the more visually extroverted GT3 RS. Yet what the S/T, starting at $290,000, lacks in fender cutouts and massive spoilers it makes up for in directness: a flat-six power plant that revs to 9,000 rpm, a motorsport-derived double-wishbone suspension, and a manual gearbox. It’s a delightfully feral combination.

Rossen Gargolov

Whereas the automatic-transmission GT3 RS is ruthlessly configured for maximum downforce and minimum lap times, the S/T is dialed in for the road—particularly the Southern Italian ones on which we’re testing the car, which happen to be the very same used by product manager Uwe Braun, Andreas Preuninger, head of Porsche’s GT line, and racing legend Walter Röhrl to finalize its calibration. The car reacts to throttle pressure with eerie deftness, spinning its 518 hp engine with thrilling immediacy, thanks to shorter gear ratios.

The steering response is similarly transparent, as direct as an unfiltered Marlboro, and the body follows with the agility of an Olympic bobsledder. Some of that purity of feeling is the result of addition through subtraction: Power-sapping elements including a hydraulic clutch and rear-axle steering were ditched, which also enabled the battery to be downsized for even more weight savings. The final result, with its carbon-fiber body panels, thinner glass, magnesium wheels, and reduced sound deadening, is the lightest 992-series variant on record, with roughly the same mass as the esteemed 911 R from 2016.

Driver engagement is further bolstered by the astounding crispness of the short-throw gearbox. The S/T fits hand in glove with narrow twisties and epic sweepers, or really any stretch that rewards mechanical grip and the ability to juke through hairpin corners. The cabin experience is slightly less raucous than the 911 R, but more raw than the wingless 911 GT3 Touring, with an intrusive clatter at idle due to the single-mass flywheel and featherlight clutch. Porsche cognoscenti will no doubt view the disturbance in the same way that hardcore Ducatisti revere the tambourine-like rattle of a traditional dry clutch: as an analog badge of honor.

The main bragging right, though, may just be owning one. In a nod to the year the 911 debuted, only 1,963 examples of the S/T will be built. Considering the seven-year-old 911 R started life at$295,000 and has since fetched upwards of $790,000, this new lightweight could bring proportionately heavy returns—if you can be pried from behind the wheel long enough to sell it, that is.

Images by Rossen Gargolov

Buy the Magazine

Subscribe today

Stay Connected

From Electric Surfboards to Biodegradable Golf Balls: 8 Eco-Conscious Yacht Toys for Green and Clean Fun

Just add water and forget the eco-guilt.

By Gemma Harris 18/10/2023

Without toys, yachts would be kind of sedentary. There’s nothing wrong with an alfresco meal, sunsets on the flybridge and daily massages. But toys add zest to life on board, while creating a deeper connection with the water. These days, there are a growing number of options for eco-friendly gadgets and equipment that deliver a greener way to play. These eight toys range from do-it-yourself-propulsion (waterborne fitness bikes) to electric foiling boards, from kayaks made of 100 percent recycled plastics to non-toxic, biodegradable golf balls with fish food inside. Your on-water adrenaline rushes don’t always have to be about noise and gas fumes. They can be fun, silent, and eco-conscious.

A game of golf isn’t just for land. Guests can play their best handicap from the deck with Albus Golf’s eco-friendly golf balls. The ecological and biodegradable golf balls are 100 percent safe for marine flora and fauna, and manufactured with non-contaminating materials. The balls will biodegrade within 48 hours after hitting the ocean and release the fish food contained in their core. For a complete golfing experience, add a floating FunAir green. From $3100 (FunAir Yacht Golf) and $315 a box (golf balls).

Fliteboard Series 2.0

The future of surf is electric, and Fliteboard offers an emissions-free and environmentally friendly electric hydrofoil. Flying over the water has never been as efficient and low impact, using new technologies with less than 750 watts of electric power. This second series boasts various performance factors for all riding styles. It also features an increased trigger range from 20 to 40 degrees for more precision and control. Fliteboard designed this series for every possible foiling ability, from newbies to wave-carvers. From $22,000.

Manta 5 Hydrofoiler XE-1

Hailing from New Zealand and using America’s Cup technology, Manta 5 offers the first hydrofoil bike. The Hydrofoiler XE-1 replicates the cycling experience on the water. Powered by fitness-level pedaling and assisted by the onboard battery, top speeds can reach up to 19 km per hour. The two hydrofoils are carbon fibre, and the frame is aircraft-grade aluminium. The onboard Garmin computer will relay all the stats. The effortless gliding sensation will accompany you through a workout, exploration or just circling the boat. From $950.

Mo-Jet’s Jet Board

Imagine five toys in one: The Mo Jet delivers just that. From jet surfing, bodyboarding, and e-foiling to scooter diving. This versatile, German-built toy is perfect for those who cannot decide. The Mo-jet uses a cool modular system allowing you to switch between activities. Whether you want to stand, be dragged around or dive, you can have it all. It even has a life-saving module and a 2.8m rescue electric surfboard. Made from environmentally friendly and recyclable polyethene, it also ticks the eco-conscious boxes. Complete with an 11kW electric water jet, it charges in 75 mins, offering up to 30 mins of fun. Adrenaline junkies will also not be disappointed, since speed surges from 0 to 27 knots in 3 seconds. From $18,000.

Silent Yachts Tender ST400

Driven by innovation and solar energy, Silent Yachts recently launched its first electric tender, the ST400. The 13-footer has clean-cut lines and is built with either an electric jet drive or a conventional electric outboard engine. The ST400 reaches speeds above 20 knots. From $110,000.

Osiris Outdoor ‘Reprisal’ Kayak

Kayaks are ideal for preserving and protecting nature, but they’re usually manufactured with materials that will last decades longer than we will and therefore not too eco-friendly. Founded by US outdoor enthusiasts, Osiris Outdoor has created a new type of personal boat. “The Reprisal” kayak is manufactured in the US entirely from recycled plastics (around 27 kgs) that are purchased from recycling facilities. The sustainable manufacturing process isn’t its only selling point; the lightweight Reprisals have spacious storage compartments, rod holders and a watertight hatch for gadgets. Complete with a matte-black finish for a stylish look. From $1100.

The Fanatic Ray Eco SUP Paddleboard

Declared as the most sustainable SUP, the Ray Eco is the brainchild of the Zero Emissions Project and BoardLab, supported by Fanatic. Glass and carbon fibre have been replaced with sustainable Kiri tree wood. And you can forget toxic varnishes and resins; organic linseed oil has been used to seal the board and maintain its durability. This fast, light, and stable board is truly one of a kind, not available off the rack. This craftsman’s love for detail and preservation is another first-class quality of the board. From $10,000

Northern Light Composite X Clean Sailors EcoOptimist

One of the most popular, single-handed dinghies in sailing’s history, the tiny Optimist has undergone a sustainable revival. Northern Light Composites and not-for-profit Clean Sailors have teamed up to launch the first sustainable and recyclable Optimist. Using natural fibres and eco-sustainable resins, The EcoOptimist supports a new circular economy in yachting. OneSail also produces the sail with a low-carbon-footprint manufacturing process. From $6000.

Buy the Magazine

Subscribe today

Stay Connected

The 50 Best Cocktail Bars in the World, According to a New Ranking

The World’s 50 Best organisation gave the Spanish bar Sips top honours during an awards ceremony in Singapore.

By Tori Latham 18/10/2023

If you’re looking for the best bar in the world, you better head to Barcelona.
Sips, from the industry luminaries Simone Caporale and Marc Álvarez, was named the No. 1 bar on the planet in the latest World’s 50 Best Bars ranking. The organisation held its annual awards ceremony on Tuesday in Singapore, the first time it hosted the gathering in Asia. Sips, which only opened two years ago, moved up to the top spot from No. 3 last year.
“Sips was destined for greatness even before it rocketed into the list at No. 37 just a few short months after opening in 2021,” William Drew, the director of content for 50 Best, said in a statement.
“The bar seamlessly translates contemporary innovation and technical precision into a playful cocktail programme, accompanied by the warmest hospitality, making it a worthy winner of The World’s Best Bar 2023 title.”
Coming in second was North America’s best bar: New York City’s Double Chicken Please. The top five was rounded out by Mexico City’s Handshake Speakeasy, Barcelona’s Paradiso (last year’s No. 1), and London’s Connaught Bar. The highest new entry was Seoul’s Zest at No. 18, while the highest climber was Oslo’s Himkok, which moved up to No. 10 from No. 43 last year.
Barcelona may be home to two of the top five bars, but London has cemented its status as the cocktail capital of the world: The English city had five bars make the list, more than any other town represented. Along with Connaught Bar in the top five, Tayēr + Elementary came in at No. 8, and Satan’s Whiskers (No. 28), A Bar With Shapes for a Name (No. 35), and Scarfes Bar (No. 41) all made the grade too.
The United States similarly had a good showing this year. New York City, in particular, is home to a number of the best bars: Overstory (No. 17) and Katana Kitten (No. 27) joined Double Chicken Please on the list.
Elsewhere, Miami’s Café La Trova hit No. 24 and New Orleans’s Jewel of the South snuck in at No. 49, bringing the Big Easy back to the ranking for the first time since 2014.
To celebrate their accomplishments, all of this year’s winners deserve a drink—made by somebody else at least just this once.
Check out the full list of the 50 best bars in the world below.
1. Sips, Barcelona
2. Double Chicken Please, New York
3. Handshake Speakeasy, Mexico City
4. Paradiso, Barcelona
5. Connaught Bar, London
6. Little Red Door, Paris
7. Licorería Limantour, Mexico City
8. Tayēr + Elementary, London
9. Alquímico, Cartagena
10. Himkok, Oslo
11. Tres Monos, Buenos Aires
12. Line, Athens
13. BKK Social Club, Bangkok
14. Jigger & Pony, Singapore
15. Maybe Sammy, Sydney
16. Salmon Guru, Madrid
17. Overstory, New York
18. Zest, Seoul
19. Mahaniyom Cocktail Bar, Bangkok
20. Coa, Hong Kong
21. Drink Kong, Rome
22. Hanky Panky, Mexico City
23. Caretaker’s Cottage, Melbourne
24. Café La Trova, Miami
25. Baba au Rum, Athens
26. CoChinChina, Buenos Aires
27. Katana Kitten, New York
28. Satan’s Whiskers, London
29. Wax On, Berlin
30. Florería Atlántico, Buenos Aires
31. Röda Huset, Stockholm
32. Sago House, Singapore
33. Freni e Frizioni, Rome
34. Argo, Hong Kong
35. A Bar With Shapes for a Name, London
36. The SG Club, Tokyo
37. Bar Benfiddich, Tokyo
38. The Cambridge Public House, Paris
39. Panda & Sons, Edinburgh
40. Mimi Kakushi, Dubai
41. Scarfes Bar, London
42. 1930, Milan
43. Carnaval, Lima
44. L’Antiquario, Naples
45. Baltra Bar, Mexico City
46. Locale Firenze, Florence
47. The Clumsies, Athens
48. Atlas, Singapore
49. Jewel of the South, New Orleans
50. Galaxy Bar, Dubai

Buy the Magazine

Subscribe today

Stay Connected