Eyes Wide Shut

Eyes Wide Shut

Maroondah Art Gallery, Melbourne, Australia, 2011

Over the years, my work has touched on political themes in a broader sense. Sometimes this has taken the form of explicit topical commentary (e.g. in relation to government policies or economics) while at other times it has stretched to more personal reflections on the assumptions and principles which underlie everyday middle class family life.

The billboards incorporate slickly executed stencil designs and slogans laced with irony; not in lacquer paint, but in soot on mirror. Image and title form pane and counterpane to issues at hand. What would otherwise be fodder for fish and chip wrap suddenly gives cause for pause and, hopefully, thought.

A work featuring the word “Hicks” is titled Country Bumpkin. Synonyms. Political context allows the boundaries between the terms to blur. This could equally be a comment on a government’s blind commitment as it is on an individual’s choice leading to naïve entanglement. A country bumpkin or a country as hick…

Lifestyle Facilitator brings into focus an altogether different subject matter. The silhouette of a sharp-edged credit card obliterates most of a panel. The mirrored background doubling as colour as well as a silent reminder that it is not only what we see, but also what is blocked out and not seen that matters. What we lose in this black hole of credit is of course our own self.

The prints are installed to create an inner sanctum. It is not the familiarity of commence but rather the intimacy of tourist and family snaps which is striking. But here too what might otherwise be innocuous portraits or landscapes take on a darker dimension.

These images aren’t stencils, but they too are distanced from their overt subjects. What were once colour photographs are now black and white lithographic images blotted with red and grey semitransparent ink. The overall effect is one of posters expired before their time. The sombre black and grey tones recall the sun and time bleached images seen on tombstones in forgotten graveyards.

No matter how hard we try to confirm our existence in images or justify our actions through slogans, we readily fail to recognise  our broader context of fallibility and mortality.

Not only in the political, commercial and social, but also in the domestic, personal and individual domains we walk with our eyes wide shut.

Giuseppe Romeo