20 PAINTINGS OF POP SINGERS
Buoyed by my success with the Acquired Taste series in 1997, I returned to the figure in 1998 with a series about generic pop singers titled Serenades. Twelve of these were exhibited at Pinacotheca gallery in Melbourne from 26th August to 19th September, 1998 in tandem with Acquired Taste. Following my stint in visual merchandising, I worked as a scenic artist, painting backdrops and scenery for film and TV productions. Amongst the productions I regularly worked on was a sprawling variety show called Hey, Hey It’s Saturday, which featured musical acts on customised sets. Some of this definitely served as inspiration for Serenades.
Like Acquired Taste, the theme is really a grading of presentation to representation. Serenades also affords a metaphor for the persuasive nature to displays. Just as a serenade seeks to sway our feelings for the singer, so a display seeks to sway our appreciation of appearances, so a picture enhances the view of a display through selective framing and other resources. Setting, singer and song seduce our sympathy, set our sights upon a sound. Like Acquired Taste, there is a synaesthetic dimension to the series, a co-ordination between senses. One series enhances smell and flavour through pictures, the other enhances sound through them. As with food presentation; a singer’s appearance has no real status separated from setting. Each layer of display, from make-up and costume, to gesture and movement, lighting and stage architecture and props builds a more persuasive singer and song. And while passages are notably painterly or lush and impasto, there is no way to say exactly what they depict, what textures, colours, shapes or shadows they may be taking liberties with, or in other ways, deftly describing. Painting too becomes part of the song. The song is ultimately about painting.
Modern Love 1998 42 X 36ins acrylic/canvas
Everlasting Love 1998 42 X 36ins acrylic/canvas
Love Will Tear Us Apart (Showtime)* 1998 217 X 336cm acrylic/canvas
*Unfortunately this reproduction badly crops the sides and top of the painting. The best I can offer is a comparison with the painting in an earlier state, here.
You Can’t Hurry Love 1998 42 X 36ins acrylic/canvas
Love Can’t Turn Around 1998 36 X 30ins acrylic/canvas
Love Don’t Live Here Anymore 1998 36 X 30ins acrylic/canvas
Love My Way 1998 36 X 30ins acrylic/canvas
The Back of Love 1998 36 X 30ins acrylic/canvas
Love Me Tender 1998 28 X 22ins acrylic/canvas
Love is Blue 1998 28 X 24ins acrylic/canvas
What’s Love Got To Do With It? 1997 92 X 76cm acrylic/canvas
Love to Love You 1997 92 X 76cm acrylic/canvas (destroyed)
Part-time Lover 1997 92 X 76cm acrylic/canvas
Love is in the Air 1998 92 X 76cm acrylic/canvas
Bye Bye Love 1997 107 X 97cm acrylic/canvas (destroyed)
Love in Vain 1997 107 X 97cm acrylic/canvas
All You Need is Love 1997 71 X 61cm acrylic/canvas
Careless Love 1997 71 X 61cm acrylic/canvas
Love Hurts 1998 28 X 24ins acrylic/canvas
Love is The Drug 1998 28 X 24ins acrylic/canvas
Serenades were deliberately more shrill and bombastic than Acquired Taste. Given the opportunity of showing them in adjacent galleries, it was important to demonstrate that the underlying theme had considerable range. I returned to the theme once more with the series Sculptures in 2000, but did not have the opportunity – or inclination, frankly – to show them as I faced more pressing practical problems.