PURE HEROINE is the triumphant latest series from internationally acclaimed Pop artist Johnny Romeo. Following up from his celebrated and sell-out 2016 show WHEN WE RULED THE WORLD at Linton & Kay Galleries, Romeo returns to Perth in a blaze of glory, delivering an electrifying, neon-drenched celebration of women that sees the leading force in Australian Pop art deliver his strongest works to date.
Inspired by the new wave of Feminism that has swept the world, especially post-Trump, the series captures the gutsiness and defiance of iconic, independent women who smash through glass ceilings and refuse to remain silent in a hostile, male-dominated world. PURE HEROINE is the third instalment in Romeo’s ‘Women Series’, and acts as the spiritual sister to his critically renowned, female-centred exhibitions PUSSY RIOT (Alice Springs, 2014) and ANGRY BIRDS (New York, 2015).
Drawing its title from the 2013 debut album from Kiwi pop star Lorde, PURE HEROINE is a bold and unapologetic celebration of women at their most fearless and rebellious. The series bursts at the seams with vibrant explosions of confectionary-sweet Technicolour hues that speak to the spirit and dynamism of strong women kicking against the constraints of society.
A lifelong fan of film, Johnny Romeo imbues his latest paintings with a truly larger-than-life, cinematic quality. Romeo’s monumental pastel portraits of tragic artistic spirits and leading ladies are slick and unswervingly confident, evoking the classic posters of Old Hollywood as re-envisioned through his garish Neo-Expressionist Pop lens. Meeting the stare of the audience head-on, Romeo’s rollicking renditions of iconic women such as Audrey Hepburn and Princess Leia subvert the male gaze, the stillness of their poses signifying a resolute demand to be respected. By honing in on the faces of his subjects, Romeo has captured fiery femmes at their most intimate and confrontational, refusing to be ignored as they occupy the centre stage of the canvas.
Johnny Romeo’s cinematic approach to composition is also taken to glorious new heights through his depictions of commanding comic book vixens and Pop culture sirens. Evoking the headstrong, femme fatales of Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Kill Bill’, Romeo’s rambunctious take on characters such as Harley Quinn and Catwoman teeter between beauty and brutality, recalling the intensity of Grindhouse mavens in the tense moments before all hell breaks loose. Romeo’s cartoon Amazons are in complete control of their bodies, their sexuality, their identities, and are painted with a deliberate stillness and in exaggerated, majestic poses that highlight their sense of power and self-assuredness.
Punchy, rhythmic text assemblages and clever wordplay are employed to great effect in PURE HEROINE. Romeo cleverly subverts rhetoric often used to objectify women into epithets of female empowerment, infusing each of his works with a hooky, anthemic feel that conjures the spirit of the riot grrrl movement. This can be seen in the work ‘Vest Noir’, which skilfully turns our hyper-sexualised perceptions of Marilyn Monroe on their head. The slight shift in text from ‘frisky’ to ‘risky’ transforms the entire tenor of the work, re-contextualising Marilyn Monroe into a risk-taking pioneer of Girl Power who embraced sexual liberation on her own terms.
PURE HEROINE is an incendiary and unapologetic shot of Neo-Expressionist Pop adrenaline that rails against the system with unrelenting passion and undeniable attitude. Brimming with Romeo’s most anthemic imagery and explosive colour arrangements yet, the series is a bold and vibrant statement that envisions a world of Pop culture in which the future is female.
Johnny Romeo | PURE HEROINE | New Paintings @ Linton & Kay Galleries, Perth, Australia.
May 27th, 2017 – June 25th, 2017.
Opening reception with Artist: Thursday 1st June, 2017 | 6-8pm @ Linton & Kay Galleries, Perth.
The Old Perth Technical School – Level 1 / 137 St Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000.
Any enquires regarding Johnny Romeo’s PURE HEROINE can be made directly through Linton & Kay Galleries (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by calling the gallery on +61 8 6465 4314.
May 28, 2017