Ghetto Star

Acrylic and Oil on Canvas
150 × 150 cm

In Ghetto Rebel Star, the battle between the Rebel Alliance and the Empire will no longer be forged in a galaxy far, far away, but instead on the mean streets of the Bronx in the early 1980s. The painting deftly fuses the worlds of hip hop and science fiction into a delectable slice of Pop culture revisionism that sees Star Wars heroine Princess Leia as a street hustler decked out in a fresh Adidas tracksuit. As one of the most beloved Feminist icons in Pop culture, Johnny Romeo’s rendition of Princess Leia drips with a rebellious attitude and old school hip hop swagger as she gazes into the audience with a steely determination, her ghetto blaster expertly raised and ready to kickstart a street revolution against the spread of the Coronavirus. Hip hop’s notable influence in the work can be seen in the title ‘Ghetto Rebel Star’, a cheeky play on the 1998 rap smash Hit ‘Ghetto Super Star’ by Pras Mitchell, Mya and Wu-Tang’s Ol-Dirty Bastard. Romeo ingeniously positions the word ‘Star’ underneath the tracksuit logo as an homage to both Star Wars and the three-striped Adidas star that has become synonymous with classic hip-hop culture. More notably, ‘Rebel’ plays a central role within the work, highlighting Princess Leia’s status not only as a prominent member of the Rebel Alliance but also as a Pop culture maverick breaking down gendered stereotypes. The word appears again in the infectious wordplay of ‘Rebel Repel’, a playful riff on David Bowie’s glam rock stomper ‘Rebel Rebel’, off his 1974 album ‘Diamond Dogs’. Ever the savvy wordsmith, Romeo’s sly shift of ‘Rebel’ into ‘Repel’ carries with it connotations of driving away attackers, in particular the Corona virus, as it echoes of The Force used by the Jedi in Star Wars.

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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.

Read more about Johnny Romeo

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Johnny Romeo

Ghetto Star

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