Honky Cat

Acrylic and Oil on Canvas
120 × 120 cm

From locking down vibrant, thriving major cities, to pausing global travel and even curbing our ability to connect on a dance floor, the Corona pandemic has truly turned our world upside down. Romeo gleefully captures the surrealism of pandemic life, where the Absurd has become the norm, in the whacky Kitsch Pop of his painting Honky Cat. The work depicts a hairless Sphinx cat painted with the classic cat makeup of Peter Criss (aka The Catman) from rock’n’roll rabble-rousers KISS, as the logo for iconic skateboarding brand Thraser blazes above. Gazing blankly into the abyss with an air of bemusement and confusion, the KISS cat encapsulates the anxiety and disorder of a world immersed in the Corona crisis. Romeo further expresses the feeling of entropy brought about by the current pandemic through the hilarious use of the Thrasher logo, eschewing the cool, laid-back skater vibes of the brand to describe the way in which Covid-19 has thrashed us around as a society. For all of us, the Corona virus and the widespread measures that have come in its wake have quite literally shocked us, which Romeo cleverly alludes to in the text assemblage ‘Shock Me’. The phrase also nods to the 1977 single ‘Shock Me’ by KISS, whose blistering rock’n’roll is further referenced in the altered text passage ‘Rock Me’ as Romeo looks to rock music and Pop culture as a way to move beyond the doom and gloom of the current pandemic. Ultimately, the painting pines for a simpler, more innocent time, as reflected through the title Honky Cat, a wink to Elton John’s 1972 single of the same name and its refrain of ‘You better get back, honky cat/ The city ain’t where it’s at.’

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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

Honky Cat

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