Beyond the happy snap

A YOUNG boy, shaggy hair falling into his eyes, looks outward; his expression suggesting he’s seen too much in his short years.

Or perhaps he’s just unhappy at not being allowed to play computer games.

It’s up to the viewer, says artist Cherry Hood.

The Archibald prize winner says reaction to her work varies depending on the audience.

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“[Something] I’m very pleased to achieve … the fact that so many people see so many different things, that one painting can elicit so many different responses,” she tells the Voice.

The eminent Australian artist is having her first exhibition in Perth for more than 10 years.

Her images are mostly pre-adolescent boys: “I like to use the subject of the child which in the past has been discredited as sentimental, feminine, emotional … not a ‘serious’ subject for art.”

Happy, smiling children are not for Hood: “I don’t like to paint grinning children as I feel it’s like a painting of a snap shot; fine for a photo but not for my painting to fix this moment forever.”

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She studied gender politics at university where she became a “very militant” feminist, something that continues to influence her work.

“I feel that images of women and girls have a great part to play in the way we are treated.

“I was dismayed that even many women artists continued the male tradition of using a woman’s body as an erotic object.

“I felt that while it might be quite natural for a straight male to want to eroticise the female body, that woman have been so brainwashed since childhood to look at and judge themselves, girls and women, as desirable object that straight women artists just blindly followed this patterning and would do the same as a male artist.”

• Cherry Hood

• Cherry Hood

Eschewing any “particular style” in her works, Hood enjoys the medium of water colour: “[Which] has been disregarded if not castigated by the serious ‘high art’ world,” she says.

Cherry Hood, Drawn Together: New Works on Paper is at Turner Gallery, 470 William Street, Northbridge, to December 17.

by JENNY D’ANGER

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