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How we are coerced to look at an artwork, how the artist persuades us to get into their head, can tell us something about the artists themself. Through line, colour and placement of objects, Johnny Romeo's paintings track our darting eye motions from word to bird to bike, flickering and spruiking like a late night infomercial. The paintings talk fast and angular, and much like Johnny peppers his conversation with short bursts of beat poet syncopation, his work is full of juxtapositions that appear unexpected to us, but are carefully planned in Romeo's head. "I set out specifically to create a poem as I go along, using my writing and images and putting them all together.

I'm a pure pop painter, I paint quick and I paint a lot." In conversation, Romeo rails against cultural homogenisation and maybe that's the real spirit behind his passionate, raw and personal assemblages of objects and words. Galaxy Cattle is Romeo's collection of parables of the failures of blind consumerism, media saturation and celebrity fetish. The title of the exhibition, also that of a work in the show, is an underhand reference to David Beckham, whose life has come to symbolise the overreaching power of the media to manipulate our desires. Not only is the barely articulate 'Becks' the hero of every young footballer, he's also a fashion icon, every young girl's dream date.

We're informed of his every move, every outfit change, every triumph or failure, every purchase. His LA Galaxy football team is no longer a sporting venture; it's a group of cattle pulling the cart of an enormous marketing juggernaut. Passionate frustration at this suppression of individuals in the corporate engine is at the core of Romeo's work. Johnny Romeo is keeping the flame of rebellion burning bright, critically documenting our seismic shift from the industrial age to the digital future. His obvious pop forebears, Warhol, Rosenquist, Rauschenberg et al, laid the groundwork for artists like Romeo to use hedonistic technicolour and collages of ordinary objects to convey the confusion and thrilling disorientation of rapid techonological progress.

These paintings are the voice of the individual rising out of the mix and using poetry and colour to find the human heart at the core of the machine.
Paul Flynn 2008

Johnny Romeo media: Sydney - Central

Johnny Romeo media: Time Out Sydney

To view an interview with Johnny Romeo please click here.

To read more about Johnny Romeo please click here.

To download and view a PDF of Johnny Romeo's biography click here.

For further information, please email ng@ngart.com.au

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