MISPLACED and DANGLING: Jamie Cole | Murat Urlali
2020 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras
08 February - 01 March 2020
MISPLACED AND DANGLING - Jamie Cole | Murat Urlali.
OMG - where the bloody hell is the apostrophe meant to go... and what about the comma!
Forget the exclamation mark - that says it all... and who said brackets were "de rigueur"!
"Not Tonight Josephine." - was it Napo(leon) to Joseph(ine) or Joseph(ine) "Not Tonight, Josephine." to Napo(leon).
And don´t say this was never said, or Leon and Joseph will upset the quotation marks! And what´s this about colons having followers and semicolons being joiners? Visual Euphemisms, and more Linguistic Furniture needed... (embroidery required)
Euphemisms; visual linguistics; a new juggling; rhetoric; politics; nuance; stigma; change; questions; challenges; transitions; acceptance; thinking: ways of moving forward...
For Jamie Cole, moving forward addresses themes of love, loss, memory and now, stigma.
In both these series, I have gone back to my true POP origins, drawing inspiration on the collaged paintings of Rauschenberg, the simple comic style works of Lichtenstein, the illustrative and personal narrative of Basquiat, the art of Activism in Haring and the bright iconic colours of Warhol. Contemporary methods shine through with the use of Urban inspired Stencil Art, traces of digital art with fragmented memories painted onto and stitched into the canvas. Art history and popular culture references are collaged and painted into the work, along with typography and sexual images which come together to pay homage to the work of Juan Davila.
"Men I´ve undressed" is a raw series of autobiographical paintings looking back at some of the men I dated from the early 90s until I was married in 2018.
"He called me Boy", "That first Summer" and "We won´t be dancing again this summer", all tell the story of my first great love, Eric. The paintings travel through love and loss, beginning with our first chance encounter on the street during Mardi Gras to the Upper East Side of Manhattan, to the big dance clubs of NYC, to summers on Fire Island and beyond.
"All beef" and "Without you" deal with optimism and anger. Bright colour and quirky imagery invite the viewer to peer deeper into the work and see that things are not quite as they seem.
"Single no more" is a painting of love, hope and optimism. The title says it all. On meeting Bruce, now my husband, I could finally have the discussion with myself about deleting those dating apps I was addicted to. This painting expressed the joy of finding ‘that man‘. And as a gay bald 40 something man, I had plenty to sing, or more correctly, paint about.
"The State of Stigma 2020" is a series of mixed media paintings that addresses the discrimination that HIV+ people continue to face today.
A few months ago I was filling in a new patient form at a local dentist. One question shocked me: ‘Do you have AIDS?‘ My mind was immediately taken back to 1987 and the infamous Grim Reaper commercial that haunted Australian television.
How far have we come?
Many in the community can relate to the following story told by Andrew Spieldener PhD.
‘My friend was just diagnosed with HIV. The conversations we´ve been having feel familiar. He´s worried about meds. He is searching for a doctor. He does not know what to tell his friends and past dates. He wants to live around family. He doesn´t believe the result is true. He´s lonely. He feels dirty.’
The paintings "Coronation" and "De-throned" capture this moment of ‘seroconversion’ – a new diagnosis of HIV. In "Coronation" the youthful male wears a blood red crown; a title and stigma he will carry for life. Meanwhile in "De-throned", a once-loved Golden Boy now faces a lonely future.
An overwhelming body of evidence has established the HIV U=U concept. That is, an undetectable HIV viral load indicates zero chance of transmission. Yet there are many doctors who will not tell people who are undetectable that we do not have to use condoms. In the US, health department and elected officials had signed onto U=U but admitted that local doctors probably would not spread that message. The same problem faces us in Australia.
"Feast of fear" and "More angst", are raw, hot and energetic artworks. The fear and angst of sexual encounters with an HIV+ person is expressed in these works. Although we are constantly told that U=U and are led to believe that the education programs are working many still live in the fear of transmission.
In our own community, we still have work to do.
There are still gay men who put up profiles on sex and dating apps to ‘out’ people living with HIV. While I´m sure that these particular gay men think they are helping the community, they are using their position of safety to put others at risk – of assault, of interference from law enforcement, of rejection and social alienation.
The paintings "handsome 34yr old" and "6ft well hung" deals with stigma on dating apps. Both men in the paintings appear very desirable to the viewer until he reads on and comes across his HIV status. The viewer, searching for a sexual encounter, quickly dismisses the HIV+ man and the stigma is highlighted by a scribble or cross in red. The red spray paint plays the role of the apps´ ‘BLOCK’ function.
But what happens next?
About his work in this exhibition, Murat Urlali writes:
I spent three months as an Artist in Residence at The British School at Rome in the spring of 2018 so it is hardly surprising that I draw on the spectacle of Rome to create these paintings. The ‘spectacle of Rome’... now there is a notion worth a moment’s consideration.
Rome is a veritable magnet for visitors from all over the world. Throngs of tourists armed with selfie-sticks in every piazza and by every fountain, pilgrims staring upwards and priests sashaying through the Sistine Chapel, entreating the crowd with ‘Silencio!’, pickpockets and traders touting Venetian carnival masks, refugees from the Middle East forced into beggary... humanity in all its glory swarming through the sites made famous by Caesars, philosophers, poets, artists and film-makers by day and by night. All staking their claim and imposing their will on the city.
But to see the city, to really see Rome, that is what I have tried to capture here. Escaping the crowds into a daydream, this is my Rome – a city where monuments and mythology can be brought to life with a little imagination. But I acknowledge that this is my daydream and I invite my viewers to create their own.
I employ Ottoman/Persian-style relief painting techniques which I combine with a ‘traditional’ Western methodology, viewing my subjects through Camp-Kitsch lenses. I have carefully dripped paint onto canvas and wood panels and then manipulated it with needles rather than relying on paintbrushes.