Tears 4 Fears

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By Romeo, Johnny size: 150 x 150 cm code: H31278 Medium: Acrylic and Oil on Canvas Genre: Painting

The intensely raw introspection of Frida Kahlo’s self portraits are given a neon-drenched injection of psychedelic Beatlemania in Tears 4 Fears. A clever play on the iconic work ‘The Two Fridas’ (1939), Johnny Romeo re-envisions Kahlo’s tortured double portrait as John Lennon and Yoko Ono, their hearts exposed for all to see as their hands are clasped in union. The notable symbolism of the string and the pair of scissors used in Kahlo’s original painting remain in Romeo’s work, but take on a new light as the artist examines Lennon’s refusal to cut the chord between himself and Ono, despite the latter often being accused of breaking up The Beatles. Shades of youthful love are evident in both the depiction of exposed hearts and the positioning of the scissors in Lennon’s hands, which point to the number 4 to visually imply the phrase ‘John 4 Yoko’. Lennon and Ono’s creative and political partnership is alluded to in the powerful word assemblage ‘War Is Over’, an anti-war rallying cry for the duo’s famous Bed-In revolution which culminated in the 1971 song ‘Happy Xmas (The War Is Over)’. A master of visual puns, Romeo toys around with the notion of the Bed-In revolution by depicting the suited Lennon and the Kahlo-esque Ono as conjoined lovers sitting on a bed. The notion of the ‘Bed-in’ revolution takes on a darker character when applied to the current Corona virus and its implications of being bed-ridden and having to stay indoors due to Covid-19 lockdowns. ‘War Is Over’ then, with its subtle concealment of the word ‘Warp’, cunningly captures the way in which the Corona pandemic has warped normal life as we know it while also bearing the hopeful promise of new beginnings with its suggestion that the ‘warp is over if you want it’. This fear of the unknown is pithily captured in the title Tears 4 Fears and its cheeky nod to the acclaimed 80s synth-pop band Tears for Fears.

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