THE Aussie bloke has been replaced by the Aussie lad, as new generations of young men struggle to find identity in the mixed messages on social media, says artist Wade Taylor.
Designer brands, hair styling and male cologne are at odds with the meat pies, VB and football of past generations of “blokes”, he says.
“The classic Aussie bloke was proud of his working class roots, with no illusion to fashion.
“The Aussie lad is dedicated to certain brands, it’s opposite to what you think as typical Aussie, it’s a new model.”
The 34-year-old has long been fascinated, and concerned, by the notion of Australian masculinity and how it is expressed across social media.
“I’ve always been around it, but not of it, always on the outside. I’ve never felt a part of that world, but it’s all very familiar.”
With a mix of paintings, sculpture and installations, the local artist explores the changes in Australian masculinity in his latest exhibition Eshay, at Paper Mountain in Northbridge.
Beyond the suburban ordinariness are references to wealth, and high fashion, and the exhibition draws on the differences between the glamourised projections of lifestyle from its subjects with that of the mundane realities of suburban life, a disjuncture that fascinates Taylor.
“They are projecting how they want to be seen, theses allusions or aspirations to wealth, grandeur and flashiness jar quite a lot with how life actually is in the context of Australian suburbia.”
Taylor’s oil paintings are bold canvases, the style thick and rough capturing ordinary suburban scenes.
Pink is a common theme, including a couple of young blokes (one in a pink t-shirt) cleaning a car, the background awash with pink and powder puff blue.
“Pink was a deliberate choice, it infuses a type of femininity into a masculine world,” Taylor says.
Taylor is an emerging artist, who completed his degree at UWA in 2012 with a focus on painting, film, and multi-media installations, along with collage and ceramics.
Eshay is on September 12–27 at Paper Mountain, 267 William Street, Northbridge. The gallery is open daily 9.30am–5pm.
by JENNY D’ANGER