Painting Badiucao

Painting

In early December 2019 New South Wales had ninety bushfires burning in the state, thirty nine of which were out of control. I drove from Sydney to Canberra through thick brown smokey air and past blackened patches of burnt out bush to attend my first annual conference of The Australian Cartoonists Association. Driving around the empty Lake George on my approach to Canberra a brown ashy bushfire cloud on the other side of the lake was sucked up by the wind turbines next to it. Climate change was supercharging the bushfires and we should be doing more to combat it. These little pinwheels on the horizon looked like political cartoonists, waving their arms at Canberra, with a good dose of visual irony, pleading those in power to do better.

I have always been passionate about politics and as an artist decided to use my powers for good and began creating political cartoons. Joining the ACA made me feel like a more grown up cartoonist which sounds like an oxymoron but I was excited and anxious to listen to the guest speakers and rub shoulders with Australian artists I really looked up to.

One of the guest speakers was Badiucao, a Chinese-Australian artist/cartoonist /activist. His cartoons and artworks criticise Beijing and the CCP. He created the Hong Kong freedom flag, worked with Ai Weiwei in Berlin where he developed the Tank Man protest held on the anniversary of Tiananmen Square massacre and had recently featured in a documentary China’s Artful Dissident where he reveals his identity after being masked and anonymous for years – earning him the title ‘Chinese Banksy’.

巴丢草 Badiucao on Twitter: "#badiucao Cartoon on How Chinese government is  silencing Australian academic, @CliveCHamilton and his new book  #SilentInvation Also New Street art in#HoseirLane, #Melbourme News  background: https://t.co/Zrb702JlmS… https ...

Meet Badiucao, the Dissident Cartoonist Taking on Beijing | Time
Artworks by Badiucao

By chance I ended up sitting next to Badiucao at the ACA Stanley Awards dinner, held in the dinning hall of Old Parliament House. We talked about our art practice and what was happening in Hong Kong. Badiucao received an award that night for bravery in cartooning.

I try to enter a portrait in the Archibald Prize every year. I had painted political satirists the last two years with portraits of James Colley (2018) and Mark Humphries (2019) and was keen to continue this trend as I believe political satire is a healthy product of a democracy and they should be recognised alongside the other Australians featured in the Archibald for their vital contribution to culture and political debate. Badiucao agreed to sit for the portrait and we would meet for the sitting in 2020.

The sitting took place in Melbourne while he was setting up his exhibition Made in Hong Kong, Banned in China. After the sitting, Badiucao took me through the exhibition before its opening and we parted ways not knowing that 2020 would close boarders, push back deadlines, and turn into the year that it has.

My final portrait was painted on a woodblock that I carved before applying paint. This referenced Badiucao’s art style which itself references the printing technique of communist propaganda poster design. It’s a reference to how cartoons can be quickly and broadly distributed, and also a nod to ‘wanted’ posters. During the portrait sitting we discussed the art of woodcut printing. While in Berlin Badiucao took inspiration from Käthe Kollwitz who used the technique to illustrate peasants and working class struck by poverty and hunger during wartime. My finished portrait also works as a functioning printing block.

Painting a portrait of someone who has had their face hidden for years is an odd challenge, however Badiucao’s huge black beard and distinctive glasses has had him emerge from his mask with a very iconic look that feels like a bold expression of identity that I felt had to be captured with a bold graphic style.

Finalists for the Archibald Prize are announced on the 17th of September.

Portrait painting – (2012 – 2020)

Badiucao” (2020)
Oil and block ink on woodblock
Subject: Badiucao
Submitted to 2020 Archibald Prize

You can read more on the process of painting Badiucao here


“Hello, I’m Mark Humphries” (2019)
Oil on canvas (152 x 61 cm)
Subject: Mark Humphries
Entered in the 2019 Archibald Prize

You can read more about the process of painting Mark Humphries here.


“Troppo vero!” (“too right”) Portrait of Peter Chudd (after Velázquez)
Acrylic on canvas, pink house paint (70 x 55 cm)
Subject: James Colley (AKA Peter Chudd) Young Walkley Nominated Satirist
Entered in the 2018 Archibald Prize

Read more about the process of painting James Colley’s Peter Chudd here 


“Umbilicals of the Goldfish” (after Raphael)
Acrylic on canvas,
Subject: David Collins, Shane Dundas AKA The Umbilical Brothers
Entered in the 2016 Archibald Prize

You can read more about the process of painting this portrait of the Umbilical Brothers here.


“Dave Amuck” (200 x 100 cm)
acrylic and ink on canvas
Subject: David Collins
Entered into the 2012 Archibald Prize

You can read more about the process of Painting Dave Collins here

Painting Mark Humphries

Painting

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“I’d love to paint him like a weird mole that turns out being an unformed conjoined twin… you know… mostly hair and teeth”

At about 1.30am at a housewarming in Enmore, I garbled that awful pitch to my friend Greta (loudly) over the house DJ that was blasting music that was frankly aggressively too youthful. Greta was a presenter on Tonightly on the ABC. Tonightly was, at the time, breaking the mould for the ABC, putting politeness to the side and shooting for jokes based on raw honesty – speaking truth to power. The turnaround was only 7 days but the show was able to churn out brutal gold every week. Greta and I started our artistic careers at UNSW and like me and some other friends at UNSW and USYD, happened to find ourselves turning our comedy skills to politics. I didn’t plan to get into political cartooning but I felt a responsibility to do so and also realised how much of a goldmine Canberra was, so I started panning. The ‘mole’ I was shouting about to Greta was Mark Humphries, a mate of Greta’s and another political satirist. Greta said she’d set up a meeting to kick us off.

Mark who has described himself as a ‘poor man’s Baby John Burgess’ and ‘the Bondi Vet’s evil twin brother’ is the co-host of Network 10’s Pointless, formerly on The Feed on SBS and currently on the ABC with the 7:30 report in the satirical comedy slot. I was a big fan of Mark’s work as soon as he hit the scene. He had the sheen of a young David McGahan and the hair of a young wheat field. He has wonderful presence on screen, was consistently funny and cutting and even if he wasn’t keen to sit for a portrait I wanted to meet him.

 

Mark said ‘yes’ to the portrait and in the first sitting we got on like a horse on fire (loud and quick). Over the last few months while sketching, painting and bringing Mark in for more sittings, I moved away from focussing on the gameshow host of just ‘hair and teeth’ and moved towards painting Mark as his political satire persona, an on the ground reporter. The painting then required a powerful stance with heavy colour and line but the character had to be undercut in some way so, as well as a cheesy pose and hinting smirk, I took the might of the nations capital and sifted down to it’s most daggy and simple icon with the Canberra bus shelter for the background.

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We delivered the painting at the end of the week and ate lunch at the gallery. I have my fingers crossed for the Archibald Prize in a months time but mostly am proud to have painted this work and promoted political satire a little more in Australia.

“Troppo vero!” (“Too Right!”)

Painting

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Back in 2014 when I was a couple of years out of Uni and on the look out for illustration jobs, I came close to drawing cartoons for a book that explained physics entirely through jokes, the book wasn’t picked up but I kept in contact with the author, James Colley. James and I met through different university comedy societies, James continued writing and I kept drawing and we both marched forward without losing our comedy roots.

Nominated for a Young Walkley, creator of  SBS Comedy’s The Backburner and Nailed It at Giant Dwarf, James also works on ABC TV’s The Weekly: with Charlie Pickering and Gruen. James has his teeth well and truely sunk into the Australian political satire scene and in 2017 released a book as his right-wing political commentator character, Peter Chudd. The book: TOO RIGHT – Politically incorrect opinions too dangerous to be published except that they were by Peter Chudd*, Real Australian (*as shouted down the phone line to James Colley) should have a shorter title and more chapters. It was a snort to read and I wanted more, so while reading the last chapter I asked James if he would sit for me for a portrait as Peter Chudd. Chudd is the kind of character that would assume artists would be chomping at the bit to paint his likeness and would also assume that if the portrait wasn’t picked as a finalist in the Archibald Prize it would somehow be an infringement of his god-given free speech.

The books blurb:

Move over Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt, Australia’s leading conservative privileged white man has arrived. And even better, he’s written a masterpiece that dismantles every loony left – or even vaguely moderate – political argument ever made in this country! 

In Too Right, Peter Chudd, Australia’s most controversial far-right columnist tells it like it is, unafraid of who’s ‘offended’ by his ‘poorly researched’ opinions. Global warming? The only thing warming the world is the hot air from environmentalists. And what would climate scientists know about climate science anyway? Welfare? Well, that’s anything but, well, fair. Racism? Every columnist has a right to be a bigot – and how dare people dismissive him as a ‘white man’.

Read the tragic story of how this wealthy, privileged man believes he is, against all odds, the most maligned, victimised, discriminated-against person in the entire country for simply daring to speak the truth. Understand his dismay when people describe him as a hideous husk of a human who’s single-handedly tearing the nation apart.

Often portraiture, and portraiture in the Archibald Prize have paintings that are based on a previous portrait or artwork from history. My portrait of the Umbilical Brothers two years ago was based on a Raphael portrait called “Madonna of the Goldfinch” My artwork used the physical position of the two central figures and surrounding background as a reference – it was named “Umbilicals of the Goldfish (after Raphael)”. By referencing a historic portrait it elevates your own art and draws a thematic line between your subject and the one being referenced or the original artist.
For the portrait of Peter Chudd (AKA James Colley), I borrowed the expression and physical pose of Velázquez’s portrait of Pope Innocent X. It is notorious portrait also famous for being reproduced by Francis Bacon in his Screaming Popes series. By painting Chudd in this way I am portraying him as a pious stern character, a man of great power. I saw the painting at the Doria Pamphili Gallery in Rome two years ago and is a fiercely personal and true portrait.


“Troppo vero!” is what the pope exclaimed when he first saw Velázquez’s portait, this translates to English as “all too true” you could say it translates to Australian as “too right”. So I named the artwork “Troppo vero!” (“too right”) Portrait of Peter Chudd (after Velázquez). 

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But I felt the portrait itself needed an element of performance. Earlier this year on January 26, a statue of Captain Cook in Melbourne had a bucket of pink paint poured over it as part of the #changethedate protests. This was an event that fuelled so much outrage for right-wing political commentators. The pink paint that is poured over my portrait of Peter Chudd would have him screaming ‘censorship’ and the event on Jan 26 would easily have been a news article he would hammer for weeks blaming the ‘intolerant left’ for their disrespect and violence.



My twitter post before delivering the work on Thursday:

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James has been wonderful and energetic through the process and is an all round nice dude. It was great to finally collaborate with James and on the year I scored a gig as a political cartoonist (goat.com.au), James Colley was the perfect person to paint.

Logo Design – various projects

Working with Flying Bark Productions, I developed the initial logo for the Australian film 100% WOLF.

100PERCENTWOLF

Logo developed for the podcast – Singing bones

Read more about the design here


Logo designed for a dog rescue service – Denise At Paws

Read more about the design here


Working with Curated Content I created the logo for travel blog No Mas Coach!


Working with Flying Bark Productions I created this logo for the My Heart Mate app.

Read more about the character design I developed for the app here