Monday, February 21, 2011

Future Tense

Almost from the moment I started painting, I have been aware that most of my ideas have been a response to the pervasive influence of entertainment and advertising media. I grew up with portable radios and color television. I was just six years old when the Apple Macintosh revolutionised the desk-top home computer. I came of age at the birth of the World Wide Web.
My identity, like that of many of my generation, has been shaped more by 'content' than experience and by the time I was an adult, I was addicted to connectivity. I craved, as a friend of mine once put it, "the constant, 'on everywhere' stimulation of fast-flowing data."
My early works were more about the 'surface' of media as it was about its effects: painted in seamless, high-gloss enamel, the cutesy, Japanese anime-like figures of my first paintings gradually gave way to darker, more tightly wrapped characters that looked like me and lurched towards the viewer, threatening, brandishing weapons or simply sneering contempt (the core of my first solo exhibition at a commercial gallery – Ultra Violet One at Brisbane's Jan Murphy Gallery – in 1998) but none were particularly revelatory. They were like frames snatched from B-movies or panels of comic books.
The self-depictions were always, somehow, uncertain, their character and sexuality unresolved. As much as I've always insisted my focus is on popular (read 'mainstream') media's shaping of female identity, it wasn't until three or four years ago that I attempted to get to grips – in my work and in my life – with the trickier, less easily defined subject of my own sexual identity. For several years, my paintings were little more than elaborate experiments in role-playing and superficial social commentary.
When I exhibited the Self Vs. Self series at the John Buckley Gallery in Melbourne, in 2004, my interior conflicts were a brittle tension threatening to fracture the shiney, colourful surfaces of my new paintings. In interviews at the time, I spoke of how I wanted "to shatter these surfaces, to expose what's really roiling in my psyche." I recognised that I was no longer satisfied with reflecting advertising and entertainment's insidious, reductive influence on my – our – sense of self, I wanted to interact with it – or interrupt it – directly.
The paintings I've produced in enamel since Self Vs. Self (specifically Dangerous Career Babes and Big Pin-Ups) are large-scale, conceptual and more consciously critical but they haven't gotten me close to where I want to be. I'm completing them to free myself from old ideas, old media and, yes, old obligations.
I am already profoundly distracted by what comes next.


T/ART said...

Yesterday's "Future Tense":

"A study for an unlikely series of watercolours (it morphed into something less provocative but more interesting)"

Dig it!

JenXer said...

Excellent. I can't wait to see what happens next. [Cheshire Cat grin]