PAUL YORE//LURID DYSTOPIA
Paul Yore’s work speaks for itself–or rather, shouts out loud, and at times, even sings. Greeted by an unsettling high-pitched rendition of the Australian National Anthem, resonating from a dizzying display of colour, kitsch and constructed chaos, the work is a sensorial overload, to say the least. Audiences are lured by bright colours, shiny objects, flashing lights and revolving penises; all of which rapidly become nauseating, as the gallery is reimagined as a lurid dystopia.
Exploring personal and national narratives of identity–from the politics of gender and religion to a critique of Australia’s violent history and consumer driven culture–the artist lays bare his frustrations (“I’m going crazy mum!”). Yore’s latest series of tapestries and mixed media installations use excess to comment on excess itself in a colourful bricolage bombarded with popular vernacular. His application of diverse materials and references speak to a wide audience, rendering his works as highly accessible and visually potent. This is enhanced by a clever balancing of the tension between humour and truth. One is often left unsure of whether to smirk and giggle, or to justly cry in despair; an uncertainty which lingers beyond the gallery door, prompting deeper introspection about the issues raised in the works.
His latest exhibition presented by Neon Parc marks the return of the controversial Justin Bieber motif that led to the police raid and subsequent charges of child pornography (later dismissed) against Yore for the ironically titled installation Everything is Fucked at Linden Centre of Contemporary Arts in 2013. In Slave 4 U, an altarpiece that juxtaposes religious iconography with celebrity pin ups, a young Bieber is depicted alongside video footage of a weeping Kim Kardashian; an iconoclastic comment on 21st century idolatry and society’s shifting values. Yore’s unwavering persistence is significant, reaffirming his position as a driving force for local dialogues surrounding censorship in the arts. This widely popularised case has greatly contributed to the slow maturation of Australia, still regarded as arguably one of the more censored countries in the Western art world.
Injustice is explored widely throughout the highly charged oeuvre. Strong references are made to the ongoing impact of European invasion in works like Spoils of War. Slogans such as “White Trash Australia has a Black History” and “Dumb Genocide Nation” are juxtaposed alongside KKK imagery and an Australian flag in the shape of a swastika. An innocent and multicoloured heart shaped sign pokes out of the central shrine reminding us that ‘Love is Everything…’.
Further to this (and as to be expected) there is no shortage of homoerotic paraphernalia. Yore continues his exploration of gay politics, overtly negotiating homosexuality in a country in which marriage equality continues to be condemned. A rainbow bears the line “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”–who are we to pass judgement, he asks.
With the boldness of Tracey Emin and the pop appeal of Grayson Perry, Yore joins the crusade of influential artists using the language of tapestry as a political tool, exploring questions of gender while challenging traditional hierarchies of art and craft. The artists’ inner consciousness explodes across a series of elaborate textile works, each splattered with intense and often aggressive slogans (“Tony Abbott (just fuck off and die)”). These neo-punk tapestries are at once a cathartic meditation for the artist and a confronting wake up call to the viewer. While the softness of the medium opposes the vulgarity of the statements, these quilts offer no comfort. The work is bright and deafening as compared to the more minimal (and text free) pieces like Dreaming Is Free and Computer wrld which offer moments of relative quiet among the mayhem.
Upon entering, one does not just step into the psychedelic world of Paul Yore but rather a frighteningly raw microcosm of the media saturated lives that we all inhabit. The artist offers audiences both a sobering reality check and a stimulating space in which to confront the complexities of the Australian identity. Yore holds a mirror to the spectacle of our society that is difficult to turn away from, and at times even harder to face.