Friday, June 11, 2010
The aspect of my work that provokes the most ascerbic criticism is its easy accessibility.My best-known paintings are big, brightly coloured and shiney, like ads in a glossy magazine, and they depict idealised, sexy women. At first glance, there doesn't appear to be any more to them than this. They can be easily dismissed as outsized graphic design rather than serious art – at best, afflicted by the "subversive and slick trademarks of contemporary consumer culture", as the Australian critic Ashley Crawford once put it; at worst, "predictable". One of the drawbacks of having my work recognisable mainly from its wide distribution across the web is that its essential elements of repetition and scale are overlooked. For example, the 24 Dangerous Career Babes are basically identical, even if the clothes, accessories and backgrounds are different. They share exactly the same dimensions and are over two metres (just under seven feet) in height. Individual Babes have been bought by more than a dozen collectors but the series was conceived as a single work, an installation intended to occupy several thousand square feet of wall space. It isn't until you've stood among half a dozen or more in the same room that you begin to feel the almost claustrophobic oppression these deliberately clichéd depictions of modern women – "part action figure, part Barbie doll" – impose. The insidious taint of advertising and entertainment stereotypes on the contemporary female psyche is a conceptual trace element in many of my works. Scale is also important to my latest series of enamels, Big Pin-Ups (Miss April pictured above). I wanted these unabashedly Pop portraits of 21st century adult performers to be just as prim yet as seductively appealing as illustrated pin-ups from the 1930s and '40s. But by painting them big enough to loom over the viewer, in noxiously pretty, 'girly' pastel hues, our "predictable" responses – regardless of how they're keyed by our individual sexuality – are subverted. Which is another way of saying, yes, my work is accessible and quickly 'read' when you first encounter it. But it's what happens next that argues for its power and validity as art.