It’s Gonna Be (Alright)

Jo Chew


It’s Gonna Be (Alright)

26 July to 21 August 2012

Names are funny things. We give names to everything. We can’t stop ourselves. It seems intrinsic to being human that we name things. It’s strangely comforting that to not give a name to a child gets you fined. Yet I struggle to give names to my paintings. In the end, with my recent paintings, I chose the restriction of giving them titles from Ween songs that have some tenuous link to the ideas behind the paintings (we have a big CD collection and Ween is well represented). I like connecting them with Ween because the temptation with art (and me) is to get a bit serious and pretentious. The playfulness and idiocy of Ween appeals in its lack of pretension. But art is fun – it’s something kids do. Sure it is able to deal with huge issues and can deal with very profound and universal stuff. But in the end it’s something to be looked at and experienced, that came together through the choices and whim of the painter.

The subtitles for these works are, more than anything, a reminder to me of what I was thinking about when I chose these objects and relationships in the pictures. Maybe some people who like the Bible and know their way around it will look the subtitles up. Maybe they won’t.

As a bit of background to what interests me, what I want to paint? the work really comes out of what I think about life and people, especially the contingency of our bodies and existence. The way we are thrown into our lives, with no say in where we’re born or when, the way we go through life like an actor improvising. There is a fair bit about death in my paintings. To me, though, death is not a final thing. So the things to do with death – skulls, death masks, tents and temporary shelters – are not morbid but rather an acknowledgement that death is a wall between the limitations and incompletion of the here and now, and the unknown (maybe unseen is a better word) of eternity. In these paintings I have persisted with three-legged dogs. Three-legged dogs are a gentle image to me of the comfort it is to be defective and yet cared for. And the idea of the stage – an overtly constructed scene – has continued to appeal to me with its parallels between an actor’s part within a greater play (like our lives) and the way that the space of a play and the space of a painting are fictional things that speak of something real.

That’s it. Kind of.

In the words of Ween.

Lovin U thru it all, lovin U thru it all
Thick and thin, good and bad
Sun and rain, good and thin
Good and bad, thru it all