Our Pretty Still Lives
Maroondah Art Gallery, Melbourne, Australia, 2014
Giuseppe Romeo presses pause on the frenetic pace of life and consumption with a layer of bitumen and white paint.
Born out of an attempt to keep up with and transform the debris of contemporary life these works are endless in their potential incarnations.
An optimistic reading might see in them human creativity, capacity to recreate, rescue of a beauty otherwise unrecognised.
But despite their aesthetic appeal these sculptures are a subversion of Vogue living and Romantic ideals. They take as base mass produced objects which enlist design and the saccharine to make even a toilet cleaning product seductive.
Welcome to the anthropocene. Not just our waste but how we destroy. An age shaped into a wasteland by humanity.
Giuseppe Romeo delivers his frightening message with a good dose of black humour (see the toilet rolls which constitute “landscape at sunset” or the toy crocodile in “shopping maul”).
Ours is the age of the slow burn not the sudden pyroplastic surge. Unlike Vesuvius’s victims we have the potential benefit of foresight.
Here we have not ash but an artist’s brush to render a pile of consumer castoffs ominously beautiful set to a discordant score of plastic lullabies.
A wink to Goya; “the sleep of reason produces monsters”.