Wednesday, 9 July 2008

artist johnny romeo

NG Art Gallery in Sydney's Chippendale is fast becoming another favourite art gallery. I really respond to the work's they exhibit. The latest is from fast and furious artist Johnny Romeo - with a name like that he wasn't going to be an accountant, that's for sure! His Galaxy Cattle exhibition opened last night.

What five words best describe you? Progressive. Determined. Sensitive. Empathetic, Loyal.

What’s your proudest achievement? Well, being a painter I must admit that my proudest achievement is always the completion of my latest work. There is such an adrenalin rush, which charges your body when you've finally finished a work. You’ve worked for days battling against the canvas; your sensory awareness is peaking as you’re most engaged. Then there’s the fight, knowing what to work in, sensing what to work over, you battle and battle… and finally, victory! You’ve won and that’s your proudest moment, until next time and the next canvas.
What was the starting point for this exhibition? My current exhibition is called Galaxy Cattle. My work deals with the way we construct our identities from the vast array of images that pop culture immerses us in. The exhibition deals with LA pop culture, cultural homogenisation, the failures of blind consumerism, media saturation, celebrity fetish and brand name heroes. My initial starting point for this exhibition was the "LA Pop" movement of the 1960s and early 70s. Those wonderful American pop images, which transformed the image of Los Angeles. Those beautiful urban and suburban landscapes which focused on the ocean and landscape, suburban life, dilapidated houses in aging neighborhoods, streets and parking lots. Ed Ruscha’s photographs of gas stations and parking lots, David Hockney's paintings of swimming pools and tract homes, Dennis Hopper’s obsession with sunlight, Allan Kaprow’s found events, Claes Oldenburg’s ‘symbols of my time’ sculptures. These artists created in their works a new and different sense of space, the urban experience, and popular culture. I loved the energy of LA Pop’s "sun, surf, sand, sex, strip malls and subdivisions". The way those artist depicted Los Angeles; a protean city as a site of pleasure and emptiness, speed and stasis. I really wanted to recreate the same energy, zest, exuberance and colour in my Galaxy Cattle exhibition.
Who inspires you? I’m totally inspired by the beat generation, colour and all things pop. William De Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg, Jim Dine, Larry Rivers, Jasper Johns, David Hockney and Andy Warhol all very much inspire me. I love the writings of Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs and the music of Bob Dylan, Lou Reed and Leonard Cohen. I really dig Kurt Cobain and Jeff Buckley.
What are you passionate about? Painting. The process. The resolution. The solitude.
The jubilation. Nothing comes close. 100% total adrenalin! If you’re a painter, you’ll know what I mean. If you’re not, it’s one of those things you must do in this lifetime.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt? If you sleep eight hours a day, you have slept for 25 years by the time you’re 75.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Pablo Picasso. When I was a young kid at school, I found this old Picasso catalogue in the art room. I took that book home and practised drawing from it for years. That book taught me a great deal about modern art, about ideas and ways of seeing and thinking about art. If only we could meet, there are so many unanswered questions I’d like to ask him.
What are you excited about? I’m excited about showing new work, but I’m most excited about the resurgence in the Australian art scene. There are exciting artists emerging and good established artist showing great work right across the country, which has definitely enriched the scene. There is also great support by the community. I’m seeing more and more packed art shows. Artists have become the new prized athletes and entertainers of our time!!! There are more and more people talking and being interested about art. This is really exciting!

Images courtesy of Johnny Romeo and NG Art Gallery

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