HANGING TOUGH: AN INTERVIEW WITH POP ARTIST JOHNNY ROMEO

 

Coming from an artist with a name like Johnny Romeo, we’re not surprised to see a bunch of butch images romanticised in bright colours in this here gallery.

Romeo’s artwork is pretty tough - in subject matter at least, what with all the macho comic book characters, the fast cars and motorbikes, titty girls and crossbones. But throw in splashes of colour, and all that butch suddenly becomes beautiful.

The guy’s works have graced the walls of some of the finest galleries in the country, including 19 Karen on the Gold Coast, AP Bond in Adelaide, and Buratti Fine Art in Perth. There’s plenty of international interest, too, with recent showings in LA, New York, London and Milan.

As for customer appeal, there’s heaps of that, too, with a client base as broad as the spectrum of hues on his canvas (Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert Gossett and Blink-182 are all regular buyers, thank you very much).

What we love most about Johnny Romeo’s artwork is his unabashed slashing of notions of ‘cool’ and ‘camp’. Heck, even the English language gets a sharp blade put to it, with letters in familiar phrases scratched out, turning them into something altogether radical.

It’s as if Johnny was buddies with both English and Art in school, but just couldn’t help barracking for the latter as it beat up the former behind the bike-shed at recess.

Still, full marks for postmodern interpretation.  Antonino Tati

 

 

INTERVIEW WITH THE ARTIST

 

Where were you born?

Newtown, Sydney.

 

Where do you live now?

Newtown, Sydney.

 

What are two of your fondest memories as a kid that made you realise you wanted to create art for a living?

 • Picasso was my earliest influence. He was an incredible colourist who blew my then young and impressionable mind. I carried a Picasso book with me for about seven years. I carried it everywhere and never put it down. I copied from it and invented pictures from it.

 • Eventually I changed it for a book on Matisse. Those guys were pure colour. They didn’t paint colour, they felt it. On seeing their works, I instantly knew that I wanted unquestionably to painter. I would hope people see that colour in my work.

 

Do you ever worry that a corporate brand is going to come after you for featuring it's logo in your works? For example Shell or Ford?

I’m a 21st century pop painter. Much of my work deliberately deals with elements of culture-jamming. I work with pop culture iconography. Pop culture has always fascinated and intrigued me. I appropriate it and sometimes refigure it. The thing about pop culture is that’s it’s so easy to switch off or turn over. It intrigues us but it also bores us.

 

So you see yourself as a pop culture mediator…

Yeah, kind of. As a neutral third party who attempts to assist people involved in better understanding their pop culture disagreements. I would hope that my works assist in resolving differences the audience might have with pop culture. I would hope corporate brands see that. I hope they would understand I’m doing them a service.

Products, labeling, brand names, icons and logos all intrigue me immensely. All these things have significance to me because they’re so much a part of our everyday lives. They are so much a part of my process as they are of my life.  I thrive off that energy.  To a certain degree we all do.

 

 

INTERVIEW WITH

 PETER ROWSTHORN

READ MORE

INTERVIEW WITH POP

ARTIST JOHNNY ROMEO

READ MORE

INTERVIEW WITH JEFF BRIDGES - 'SEVENTH SON'

READ MORE

RC CATCHES UP WITH MUSIC ICON NENEH CHERRY

READ MORE

Submitting Form...

The server encountered an error.

Form received.

Captcha Image

contact us