GHETTO SUPERSTAR$ is the glorious new exhibition from critically acclaimed Australian Pop painter Johnny Romeo. Australia’s King of Pop returns to Sydney with his most dazzling and accomplished collection of works to date, following a stellar year selling out major shows across Australia and the US, and a celebrated collaboration with leading American snowboard company Gilson Boards. Dripping with immense swagger, the series sees Romeo gleefully capture the energy and bravado of old school hip-hop and ‘the hustle’ in his undeniably unique Neo Expressionist Pop style. A kaleidoscopic sugar rush of explosive colours and powerful Pop imagery, GHETTO SUPERSTAR$ is a potent statement of intent from Australia’s leading Pop artist.
The series cleverly explores the notion of ‘the hustle’, of ordinary individuals elevating themselves into the realm of the extraordinary by striving to make their mark in a hostile world. Romeo’s robust renditions of iconic legends such as Muhammed Ali, Prince and Frida Kahlo smoulder with an uncompromising resilience and unwavering intensity that evokes the spirit of hardened rappers staring death in the face. Cowboys and comic book antiheroes such as Deadpool dominate the visual plain, tearing through the canvas with the unbridled ferocity of embattled mavericks fighting to forge their destinies in an unforgiving concrete jungle. There is an irrepressible vitality and confidence that courses through Johnny Romeo’s latest series, as his highly stylised, graphic line-work strikes the perfect balance between Pop sheen and urban grittiness.
The frenetic commotion and liveliness of the hustle plays a major role in Johnny Romeo’s approach to colour in GHETTO SUPERSTAR$. Romeo’s latest paintings masterfully display his life-long fascination with colour as a living, breathing force, as he conjures hyper-saturated neon hues that simmer with a vibrant, intoxicating POP exuberance. Inspired by Baz Luhrmann and Nas’ smash hit Netflix series, ‘The Get Down’, Romeo’s brazen Technicolour explosions encapsulate both the frenzied struggle and vivid nightlife of the late 1970’s Bronx in which the show is set. Expressive swathes of pastel hues splash across the canvas, reflecting the restless potential of New York, while concentrated bursts of bubblegum pinks and candy-coated blues recall the dangerous allure of seedy discotheques and freshly graffitied alleyway walls.
Influenced by the self-assured street swag of classic hip-hop, the series sees Romeo at his most punchy and visually immediate. Johnny Romeo’s masterful fusion of graffiti art and text hits hard, as pithy word assemblages skitter across iconic Pop imagery with the rhythmic assault of seasoned verbal assassins. Taking its title from the 1998 Pras Mitchell/Mya/ODB rap hit of the same name, GHETTO SUPERSTAR$ re-appropriates the lingua franca of rap to create psychedelic Pop visions where even the brightest stars first find their feet on the mean streets.
Renowned for his pitch black humour, the series sees Johnny Romeo’s signature wit honed to a razor-sharp edge. Romeo gleefully reconfigures our perceptions of beloved childhood icons, juxtaposing imagery with cheeky wordplay to transform characters such as Peter Rabbit into wise-cracking street swindlers. This is taken to uproarious heights in the work ‘Silver Starry’. Through pairing the innocence of Disney’s Alice with the words ‘Steady Flow’, Romeo invites the audience to reconsider Alice as an urban MC inhabiting a tough world where the fantastical imaginings of Lewis Carol are eschewed for the rough rhyme-slinging of the Bronx in the late 1970’s.
GHETTO SUPERSTAR$ is a truly knockout exhibition that sees Australia’s King of Pop take his hip-hop inflected, Neo-Expressionist Pop stylings to epic new heights. An electrifying collision of acid drenched Technicolour hues, unapologetic Pop sleekness and B-boy cool, the series is a bombastic homage to the dreamers, the fighters, the pioneers of this world – those who stayed true to themselves and went on to become true ghetto superstars.
Opening reception with Artist: Friday 2nd December 2016 @ 7:00-8:30pm
Harvey Galleries, 842 Military Road, Mosman, NSW 2088, Australia.
Ph: +61 2 9968 2153
RSVP to attend the opening of GHETTO SUPERSTAR$ is essential.
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Any enquires regarding Johnny Romeo’s GHETTO SUPERSTAR$ can be made directly through Harvey Galleries (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by calling the gallery on +61 2 9968 2153
Exhibition Dates: 2nd December – 16th December 2016.
November 17, 2016