Essay | Symbols of Transformation by Dr Shireen Huda


Philippe Le Miere’s current exhibition, Symbols of Transformation, explores “...relationships between fine art and popular culture...” His long-standing interest in analytical psychology is evident in the name of the exhibition, borrowed from that of the pivotal book by Carl Jung which referenced a range of cultural mythologies. 

 

Philippe Le Miere’s current exhibition, Symbols of Transformation, explores “...relationships between fine art and popular culture...” His long-standing interest in analytical psychology is evident in the name of the exhibition, borrowed from that of the pivotal book by Carl Jung which referenced a range of cultural mythologies. 

Another influential book, Cezanne’s Composition, by Erle Loran inspired the first work in this exhibition, Cezanne’s Staccato, which displays the same compositional essence as Paul Cezanne’s paintings. The staccato reference is to the short sharp lines, with the brush strokes leading the eye through the painting. “Where...Cezanne sought inspiration in a provincial landscape, Le Miere's subject becomes the reproduction of Cezanne's painting of a landscape...‘the signifier becomes the signified, art becomes the subject of art’.” The works in this exhibition interrogate and appropriate images from the early modernist landscape genre through to those dominating the current consumerist cultural landscape, starting with Cezanne and ending with street artist Banksy.

The centrepiece is #mondrian # rubiks, both a strikingly impactful and also an inherently recognisable image. The ubiquity in popular culture of the Rubik’s Cube, the third highest grossing product in the world, is emphasised through the inclusion of the hashtags in the title.  Le Miere has changed the colours in the original cube, applying Piet Mondrian’s colour relationship principles (with red being the dominant colour, followed by blue and then yellow).

In Kali, the outthrust tongue and lips logo utilised by the Rolling Stones is reunited with its inspiration – Kali, the Hindu goddess of time, change and destruction. Le Miere notes it is very “Jungian to integrate former culture into our existing culture”, while the logo’s designer revealed that “The design concept for the Tongue was to represent the band’s anti-authoritarian attitude, Mick's mouth and the obvious sexual connotations.” Kali demonstrates the multi-layering or ‘double coding’ that underpins Le Miere’s work.  This term was originally coined to describe postmodern architecture as being publicly-comprehensible while also able to be read on another more critical level.

The Banksy references in There is Always Hope acknowledge that Bansky has moved from existing outside the art world, to being an integral part of it.  This is in line with Le Miere’s belief that artists in the twenty-first century need to confront and respond to the idea of capitalism. His own conscious influence from the art market resonates throughout this body of 21 works.

Le Miere’s works are purposefully inclusive. As part of his exploration of consumer culture, he is offering ‘made to order’ paintings; that is, customised sizes and colours at a range of price points. This semi-bespoke art adds an element of interactivity to the exhibition while being the antithesis of designer elitism or true bespoke products. The premise is egalitarian.

Dr Shireen Huda

 

 

 

1 Philippe Le Miere, Artist Statement, August 2014

2“Melbourne artist Philippe Le Miere explores our obsession with reproduction and the subconscious in new exhibition”, media release, Angela Tandori Fine Art, July 2014

3 Philippe Le Miere, in conversation with the author, 10 August 2014 and John Pasche, "Rolling Stones Tongue & Lips", Rock Pop Gallery, 29 June 2007,  

 http://rockpopgallery.typepad.com/rockpop_gallery_news/2007/06/cover-story---r.html, last accessed 13 August 2014