H31279 Dead Universe
What does it mean to be immortal? For those who bear it, immortality is a double-edged sword, offering one both the ability to cheat death but also the curse of eternal life. In Dead Universe, Johnny Romeo explores the notion of defying death through Marvel’s very own undead enfant terrible, Deadpool. With tongue firmly in cheek, Romeo skilfully captures the rapid-fire humour and bloodstained sarcasm that has made Deadpool such a beloved icon in the comic book world. The painting depicts the wise-cracking anti-hero as a regal aristocrat in an elaborate Tudor period piece emblazoned with his own insignia, cleverly playing on Deadpool’s agelessness and his ability to withstand the ravages of time. The hilarious juxtaposition between the royal Elizabethans of yore and the new mutant who can never die is further highlighted in the text assemblage ‘New Mutant$’, which references the first comic book appearance of Deadpool in issue #98 of ‘New Mutants’. Issues of legacy and cashing in on celebrity deaths are also touched on through the artist’s inclusion of the dollar sign and its amusing commentary on Deadpool as the ultimate cash-cow for the Dead Universe, whose ability to kill and be killed again and again will lead to endless film sequels. Romeo brilliantly alludes to another killer, this time airborne, through the concealment of the phrase ‘New
Pollutants’ and its nod to the Coronavirus being spread through the very air we breathe. Deadpool’s ability to triumph over death in this sense is no longer tied to his superhuman powers, but more practically to the superhero mask he wears to avoid contracting Covid-19.
Johnny Romeo is an internationally acclaimed Australian painter. Considered Australia’s leading Pop artist, Romeo is spearheading the global Neo-Expressionist Pop movement with his electrifying collision of rock’n’roll swagger, comic book aesthetics and street art. Described by GQ Magazine Australia as ‘part punk, part pop’, Romeo’s Kitsch Pop works are explosive sugar rushes of Technicolour imagery and urban grittiness that are turning heads worldwide.
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