From Andrew Frost…
One might reasonably ask what Rodney Pople’s game is. According to the press release for his latest show “Pople’s role as an artist […] is to draw attention to the hypocrisy that imbues our leading institutions and to reveal the cracks in the halls of power.” In past exhibitions, Pople’s work has been broadly satirical quoting and appropriating imagery from art history, mashing together infamous figures such as mass murderers with emblems of high culture such as the ballerina and the chandelier. These motifs make a big come back in Golden Age, a collection of ‘life size’ wooden sculptures that are accompanied by a series of paintings “…conceived as contemporary reinterpretations of iconic works from the golden age of late 19th century Australian landscape painting.”
With training in sculpture and photography, and with a significant career as a painter, Pople has the facility to pretty much use any medium he chooses and the mixture of 3D and 2D sets up a rather strange relationship between the works producing a narrative that, as the press release claims, has a much bigger intention. Pople’s often sour outlook is leavened by a decadent style of image making, an ironically self aware position that produces images that offer a commentary on their own existence. While the danger in such work is to alienate the viewer, Pople’s occasional foray into whimsy offers some respite. Not all art can be muscular commentary – and a lot of people like dogs.
Until March 22
Australian Galleries, Paddington
Pic: Rodney Pople, The Rival, 2015. Wood and paint.