Joel Rea puts his work into an avant-garde genre of it's own - photo surrealism. "It's a contemporary way of approaching that genre of surrealism because I obviously hinge my work strongly on photographic references," Rea explains. "I believe my work kind of fits into a canon of the sublime, which is a genre of painting from a romantic approach."

His detailed, moody depictions of the unconscious mind take on a mythical form. He juxtaposes real life feelings that you and I might have, and transforms them onto the canvas, telling an epically beautiful tale.

'Mick Fanning - Edge of Infinity' 92 x 92cm oil on canvas

Early on in his career, Joel wasn't 'contaminated' by creating pieces for commercial sale. "My style has just kind of come out of having a vision from the start of what I wanted to do and sticking with it, without having the sales of my work pushing me in what direction I go and stay," Rea says. "I was lucky to have a gallery that encouraged me to be a bit dangerous with my subject matter, a but bolder." Lethbridge Gallery in Brisbane recruited him straight out of Art College and encouraged him to keep his own conventional, youthful, authentic voice...

Read the full story on Joel Rea in the Antipodean Issue of Box Magazine, available now. Words by Casey Vassallo, photography supplied by Joel Rea.