Emma Gale


May 7 - May 19 2011

"He was outlandish, kooky, quirky and a bit ‘out of centre'. These paintings are the same - slightly unconventional, carnival-coloured hair, painted sometimes with my fingers, painted straight from the tube. A bit like Warhol himself, I don't follow rules, I just create new ones." Emma Gale 2011

Bangalow-based Emma Gale recently won the Border Art Prize with a painting chosen for the bold spontaneity of its brushwork. With comparable painterly gusto, Gale's Pop Star series explores contemporary culture's hunger for fame and recognition. The works centre on images of Pop Art luminary, Andy Warhol. She tells of being drawn to his unconventional slant on life and savvy in artworld hype, "In this exhibition I am celebrating and showcasing the 'f' (fame) word with portraits of Andy Warhol - someone I'm a little fond of as I see something of myself in him. I relate to his quirkiness, I get it."

Andy Warhol once proclaimed "Everyone would be famous for 15 minutes" with the adjunct, "You can only become a star if everybody's talking about you". Those statements have been the impetus and inspiration for Gale's current body of work. "I am fascinated by how we are all trying to have our fifteen minutes of celebrity stardom, our picture on TV, our story in the news, or art on the walls," she explains. "I am intrigued by society's obsession for self-assurance, for instant gratification. Is it good, bad or ugly? What does it say, what do we all need that we are not getting? When famous, how glorious when strangers suddenly become your friends and the party invitations are never ending. Are we all so superficial? Are we all so self-absorbed? What's real and what's unreal? Do we care?"

"Everyone must have a fantasy" was another of Andy Warhol's dictums. Gale's kaleidoscopic portraits mimic the manifold facades he invented to attract media attention. Each canvas and work on paper in the exhibition depicts a different persona. In Happy Hipster Gale has Andy looking "quite the party piece, quite the talking point" in rainbow skivvy and round 'Lennonesque' glasses. She describes the mood in Love You Mama (pictured here) as softer, referencing both his sexual orientation and the close relationship he'd had with his mother. "His hair is kooky and coloured", she says. "And he's wearing a skivvy - half floral, half Campbell's soup can label where only the 'camp' letters are showing." Super Size Me is a blaze of red and yellow - the colours of the McDonald's multinational, fastfood chain. Here Andy himself is represented as the product, "the food for the masses".

In contrast to the expressive, gestural nature of Gale's paintings, her collaged works on paper have a tighter more considered quality. "I love getting tactile with paper and drawing", says Gale. "It's the colour and pattern colliding with the text from magazine pages that inspires me." In So Collectable, Gale has aptly dressed her Andy in cuttings from the Australian Art Collector that featured the art of knowing and buying what's hot and collectable. God Bless America depicts him in stars and stripes that allude to the 'great American Dream' and the adage that 'if you can make it here you can make it anywhere'.

The Pop Star body of work also contains a couple of most curious three-dimensional pieces. Gale comments, "I wanted to play with some objects and so what more fun than to make the things Andy loved... shoes of course!" Warhol's early infatuation with shoes as artwork subjects and luxury footwear is well documented. His favourite paint-spattered Ferragamos were bought at auction after his death by the Ferragamo family and recreated in limited edition - complete with paint splotches! Gale also pays homage to Warhol's shoe-art with some brightly coloured, high-heeled wedges and a pair of funky lace-ups decorated in tomato soup logos. Augmented with self-labelled soup cans and 'Andy glasses', Gale's sculptural pieces "set the scene". In summing up her own quirky, multi-hued Pop Star presentation, Emma Gale smilingly declares, "This is my fifteen minutes!".


» Back to previous page