Fred Perry Meets
Queensland Artist
Rhys John Kaye

December 2022

We head to Melbourne to catch up with self-trained painter Rhys John Kaye about his creative journey, inspirational music and what the Fred Perry Shirt means to him.

Introduce yourself

My name is Rhys John Kaye and I’m an artist currently living and working in Naarm/Melbourne, Australia.

Describe your style in three words

Expressive, Honest, Instinctive.

Where do you draw your biggest inspiration from in your creative endeavours?

I’d say my biggest inspiration is pain. It might sound dark at first. I think it can be something very positive though. Pain is a difficult emotion that everyone experiences in some way and art is a very powerful tool to communicate something that can’t be expressed verbally, so making work about these things feels important. The specific experiences that inspire me to make work are usually situations I observe, notice or feel. I don’t go looking for them and it's not always about my personal experiences. It can be something happening to someone I care about or something I’m completely removed from that I feel the need to respond to.

Which subcultures have influenced you?

Punk, Hip-Hop, Graffiti and Skateboarding are the subcultures that had the biggest impact on me growing up. There was a lot of cross-over for me and even though I feel more distant from it all now, I think it has a lasting impact even if it’s subtle.

What’s the best gig you’ve ever been to?

It’s difficult to choose. The first one that comes to mind was a few years ago. I was in Sydney setting up one of my exhibitions and it had been a long few weeks. A friend had an extra ticket and asked me if I wanted to see Patti Smith at The State Theatre. I had just finished the last of my work, so I went with them and I really loved it. The energy and her presence was something I don’t think I will ever forget.

What music do you listen to when creating?

It always changes, I've started working in silence a lot more lately which is something I never thought I’d do. I listen to a lot of music though and the genres always change depending on mood and the work I’m doing. This week I’ve mostly been listening to Civic, Ships Piano, Heltah Skeltah and Angel Olsen.

What does the Fred Perry shirt mean to you?

It feels nostalgic. When I was growing up, I was really into photographers like Janette Beckman, Derek Ridgers and Max Natkiel and I remember seeing it in books on the people they were documenting from an early age and associating it to this underground world that fascinated me.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Somewhere beautiful, surrounded by people I love, painting and enjoying life.