Internationally acclaimed Australian Pop painter Johnny Romeo makes his captivating show debut in Napier, New Zealand with his mini-survey RISE. The series, which will hang during the highly celebrated Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival, consists of iconic paintings by Australia’s King of Pop that have been expertly hand-selected by the artist alongside Boyd-Dunlop Gallery. A glorious fusion of explosive colour arrangements, slick Pop culture iconography, Surrealist humour and sharp social commentary, Romeo’s inimitable Kitsch Pop style is a vibrant sugar rush that pushes Pop Art to thrilling new heights. RISE celebrates the fun-loving, world-shaking power of art and Pop culture, and offers audiences an electrifying glimpse into the warped, Technicolour mind of one of the world’s leading culture jammers.
Since bursting on to the Australian commercial art scene in the mid-2000s, Johnny Romeo has become a major voice in contemporary Pop Art, amazing audiences across the globe with his neon-drenched reinterpretations of classic celebrities, cartoon heroes and rebellious rockstars. Featuring latter period works masterfully handpicked from Australian and international collections, RISE bursts at the seams with the kind of bold imagery, vivacious colour palettes and cheeky wordplay that have made the artist the highly sought-after Kitsch Pop juggernaut he is known as today. Romeo’s boisterous and unapologetically Pop stylings play with our understandings of celebrity culture and nostalgia, while embodying the liberating way in which Pop culture allows us to see the world in a new light and transcend the hum drum banality of everyday life.
The revolutionary power of art is reflected in the title of the mini survey, RISE. For Johnny Romeo, RISE is more than just a word, but a powerful call to action to stand up and be heard. From street hustling cartoon heroes to undead Pop visionaries and ominous animals decked out in KISS makeup, the defiant figures depicted by the artist bristle with an undeniable swagger and an unquenchable determination to overcome life’s challenges and exist beyond the ordinary. While ghoulish skulls and morbid language crop up throughout these paintings, the mini survey, with its sugary Technicolour hues and punchy imagery, is a vibrant celebration of what it means to defy death and live life to the fullest. Romeo’s delightfully offbeat Poptimism speaks to our own experiences of how we can rebuild and regain control of our lives after living through trying times.
Johnny Romeo’s mastery of pithy Pop culture references and razor-sharp witticisms is on full display in RISE, as the artist effortlessly melds together science fiction, celebrity icons, comic book superheroes and rock’n’roll braggadocio into incendiary Kitsch Pop explosions. Throughout the mini-survey, Romeo injects his signature wordplay and text assemblages with a searing, riotous energy that transforms mere text into potent declarations of protest. Phrases such as ‘Dead Universe’, ‘Uproar’ and ‘Staying Jive’ hit with the righteous fury of punk rock and the street-hardened defiance of hip-hop, as silver-screen stars and pulp-fiction heroes become symbols of dissent fueled by a resolute refusal to live life lying down.
RISE is an exhilarating, acid-drenched trip through Johnny Romeo’s exuberant, Technicolour Pop world, that showcases Australia’s King of Pop at his distinctive, Kitsch Pop best. Burning with a rebellious, life-affirming edge, the mini-survey acts as an electrically charged call to arms that urges us to embrace life to the fullest, realise our true potential and rise to greatness.