THE POLITICS OF PAINTING
In the slick postmodern world of contemporary art it would seem ever more difficult for
an artist to make a political statement that speaks with a fresh voice. In the 1970s many
artists abandoned painting altogether, venting their political spleens by hand-printing
posters which were hastily erected in inner-city public spaces all over the western world.
Painting was deemed to belong to the elite world of High Art, which in turn was seen as
an incipient element of late post war capitalism, a symbol of consumerism, a redundant
and outmoded art form.
Twenty years later painting is still with us, and for some artists, at least, it is a means of
exploring the complexities and injustices of an alarmingly volatile and anxious post 9/11
world. Aldo Iacobelli is one such artist, questioning the conceptual boundaries of
painting, while at the same time harnessing its power to confront some of the most
current political and social issues of our time.
Iacobelli grew up in Italy, has been based in Adelaide since the age of sixteen, and spends
lengthy periods of time living and painting in Spain. For the past seven years he has
shown with Tomas March Gallery in Valencia, where he held his recent exhibition,
Painting as an Interior Decorator. For this show Iacobelli highlighted the walls of the airy
and expansive gallery in a range of designer colours, deliberately toying with the notion of
the artist as decorator. On first appearance the paintings seem pleasantly decorative, their
floral designs emulating a somewhat twee Laura Ashley style aesthetic. Like wallpaper
samples, they emphasise the repetitive nature of fabric designs, while their thick, painted
texture makes it clear that each flower has been individually hand-painted.
But all is not what it seems; Iacobelli is far from being an innocent interior decorator, as
his exhibition title lures us into believing. The punch comes on closer inspection, when a
row of text across each floral design suddenly becomes apparent