FEMINIST ICONS INSPIRE ART
A FESTIVITY of feminism, colour and extravagance collide in Johnny Romeo’s latest artworks.
The Pure Heroine exhibition features 20 iconic women of history – from Lara Croft to Princess Diana – together with Romeo’s trademark fervour for controversy, graffiti, comics and rock ’n’ roll.
“In 2014 there was a Russian punk band, Pussy Riot, who were jailed for their views and antics and I thought at the time: ‘What a really cool name and theme for a show’, so I did a show on that in the Northern Territory and it sold out immediately,” the Sydneysider said.
“Then in 2015, I showed in New York and decided to do another show based on women called Angry Birds, and again that was very successful.
“So pushing forward, last year – I divide myself between LA and Sydney and exhibited right across America – I’m in Pennsylvania, which is predominantly Trump territory, and we were just about in the elections and I witnessed this reaction to him, which was really amazing and I was caught up in the hysteria.
“I noticed there was this new sweeping feminist mentality that seemed to take over America and I thought it was incredible and I’d like to do a show about the empowerment of women and look at iconic, powerful women in the world and make it a positive thing.”
The third part of his feminist art instalment, Pure Heroine (the title taken from Lorde’s debut album), is on show now in the city.
“It was a matter of picking just 20 iconic women in my life and then working from there,” Romeo said.
“There’s Beyonce, Wonder Woman, Catwoman – I could have gone on forever.”
Romeo said his intention from an early age was to spread colour and love and make people happy through art.
“The fact that vision has translated itself globally and on a larger scale is exciting and it also fits in with the whole burst of social media,” he said.
“My work appears every single day in some magazine in some country around the world and that isn’t necessarily because they know my work, it’s social media.
“It appears in a blog, a magazine and someone contacts me to run it in a publication and a band will contact me like Blink 182 and ask if they can use it and Lexus will call me and ask whether they can use my art for a car, and the list goes on.
“That’s the power of social media and the power of our times.”
Johnny Romeo’s latest exhibition draws on iconic women.