Hayley Arjona, ‘Rock’n’roll redneck’, CASPA, Castlemaine, 3–31 May 2014

Not long ago I found myself standing in a country pub staring at a print of that often-reproduced nineteenth-century engraving of three Australian farm hands carousing in a bar. Backs arched, arms flailing; they were the original wild colonial boys, out on a spree. Arjona’s rock’n’roll rednecks are their great-great-grandchildren, bingeing on Maccas and VB, throwing their arms around each other on cue when the Hunnas are cranked up late on a Saturday night.

Hayley Arjona, 'Rock'n'roll rednecks can't get no satisfactual', 2012, oil on canvas, 200 x 165. Copyright: the artist

Hayley Arjona, ‘Rock’n’roll rednecks can’t get no satisfactual’, 2012, oil on canvas, 200 x 165. Copyright: the artist

In seven large paintings, Grant Wood meets George Grosz; the prim totemism of the iconic American gothic mutates into bulging, pustule-encrusted hayseeds. Australia has always had its own version of the gothic, from Marcus Clarke through Albert Tucker and on into Wake in fright and Wolf creek. Arjona has discovered something of it in her relocation from Melbourne’s inner west to North Central Victoria. Nice folks … friendly, unpretentious. Things just get a little out of hand when the Barnsey CDs are dusted off half-way through the slab.

In keeping with Arjona’s rock’n’roll idiom, this is rural Australia as Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth would depict it—a psychedelic tangle of bloated heads and roiling flesh, caricatured figures who seem to take pride in their grotesquerie. The lyrical centerpiece of the exhibition—Nude sheila (2012); a young woman chugging a stubby astride a motorbike—had been sold when I visited. I’m hoping Young and Jacksons hotel have bought it to hang alongside Jules Joseph Lefebvre’s Chloe.

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3 Responses to Hayley Arjona, ‘Rock’n’roll redneck’, CASPA, Castlemaine, 3–31 May 2014

  1. Lucy June 4, 2014 at 7:10 am #

    You beauty!! Shame I missed it, looks and sounds intriguing!

  2. Frank Frok June 5, 2014 at 10:24 pm #

    I had the fortune of seeing Hayley’s most recent exhibition. It was confronting in many ways, it depicts Australian farmers, men and women, in very challenging ways. It exposes an undercurrent of chauvinism and fecundity in in some people. The paintings are designed to shock and as a result provoke a deeper sense of redeeming values when compared to society as a whole. A great exhibition, interesting, provocative, but inspiring as well!

  3. Brenda Frok June 5, 2014 at 11:36 pm #

    I had the pleasure of viewing Hayley’s exhibition. Thought provoking works in vivid colours gave me an appreciation of a different side of life to what I experience myself in my senior years. This exhibition could be viewed many times to take in all the details depicted in each work, very original! The above comprehensive review also gives one further understanding of the works. A huge compliment by the reviewer hoping the work ‘Nude Sheila’ was purchased by Young & Jacksons with the intention of hanging it beside the famous ‘Chloe’ painting.

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