Birds, dogs and t-shirts
Posted: 22 May 2012 | By: Apolline Kohen
Two friends are having solo shows at the Cross Cultural Art Exchange (CCAE) at the same time. Both are painters, former art students at Charles Darwin University and have lived for a long time in the Territory. That is where similarities between the two artists end.
One is the established artist Rob Brown and the other is Jodie Wilson, a talented emerging artist. Since the late 1990s, Rob Brown’s wry, humorous pictures have been exhibited in over a dozen solo shows and numerous group exhibitions throughout Australia. In 2009, he was awarded the People’s Choice Award at the Togart Contemporary Art Award for his painting Katherine Show Day, depicting a colourful family with cowboy hats and their pet chooks at the show.
In late 2010, Brown participated in a week-long printmaking workshop with Aboriginal artist Dion Beasley. This resulted in a series of humorous and irreverent lithographs. Their collaborative print Cheeky T-Shirt, depicting a fat boy wearing a t-shirt and illustrated with cheeky dogs, was a popular entry in the 2011 Togart Award. Some of my best Jews are friends is his fourth solo show at CCAE. The paintings are at times funny, provocative, slightly controversial or satirical. His painting Beautiful, beautiful birds cutely depicts common Territory birds but bears the caption ‘My favourite Australian Birds to chuck rocks at’.
This is the kind of humour Brown is known for and excels at. Brown also loves making reference to pop culture and music. In Killing An Arab, a monkey wearing a Fez hat says the invariable sign-off of Jimmy Durante’s radio shows, “Good night, Mrs Calabash, wherever you are”. The other solo show, All that glitters, featuring Jodie Wilson’s work, has a very different feel and style of paintings. For a start, Wilson’s oil paintings are not explicitly figurative and her subject matter is a lot more serious.
She tackles the difficult subject of exploring how Western art has shaped the image of women. She explains that “All that glitters uses humour, fact and feminist methodology to expose underlying truths and misdemeanours of women in images in Western art spanning over two hundred centuries up until present day.” The combination of shapes, colours, layers of paint and line drawing make each picture an intriguing visual essay. Wilson has only been painting for ten years and is still an art student. For a first solo show in a prominent gallery, she has managed to deliver a fascinating series of paintings