If you haven’t heard of Martin Sharp, chances are you’ve probably seen his work. The Sydney artist has been working since the heyday of Pop Art in the 1960s. He has created some of the most unusual yet vibrant art, which revolves around his relationships with iconic figures. The Museum of Sydney is currently presenting his personal collection. Designed by Sharp, this exhibition showcases his extensive and diverse work, which includes his cartoonist work in Oz magazine; paintings, posters and prints of Luna Park, Tiny Tim and Ginger Meggs. Sharp seems to have an ‘anything goes’ approach. He not only crosses boundaries in his use of medium – using oil, crayon or acrylic on either paper, board or Perspex – his use of colour is bold and bright while his shapes are a mixture of organic and fluid contours. He has also taken pop icons and placed them in different contexts. Examples include the cartoon figure of Ginger Meggs walking through the pastels of a traditional Japanese landscape and Still Life, which sits the head of Marilyn Monroe amongst a vase of flowers. Another interesting aspect is the reproduction of an image several times with assorted mediums and sizes. This is seen in Pentecost and Courage My Friend. The changes occurring in colour, form and vibrancy allow for varying perspectives where different elements come to the fore. Pieces such A curiosity in her own country, which has white, rich men peering down on an Indigenous woman and her children, provide insights into issues of Aboriginal Australia; however, these socio-political comments seem to be the exception rather than the rule. The most interesting and prevalent aspect of Sharp’s work is the aesthetic. You’ll find yourself lost, even bamboozled by the colours and shapes, and pondering the slightly creepy nature of the subject matter. The recurring representation of the macabre Tiny Tim is both fascinating and disturbing, coming across like a real life Willy Wonka except with heightened levels of eccentricity.
Until Mar 14 2010, Museum of Sydney, cnr Bridge & Phillip Sts, Sydney, $5-20, 9251 5988 or hht.net.au