In this modern world of digital cameras, selfies on mobile phones and pictures on facebook, twitter and the like, how will artists create the modern portrait? Brett Armory’s exhibition “Internal Dialogue” at Lazarides Rathbone explores everyday places and everyday people and how to make sense of the huge number of snapshots of information which bombard the senses through the screens of digital cameras, computers, televisions and mobile phones, and translates them into a coherent picture within a setting that is both the frame of a traditional painting and the frame of a mobile phone, television or computer.
But, wait, one of the paintings, “Homage to Ed”, has a huge black “X” across it. Why is this? To those who know, the message is “Don’t mess with an artist, especially if he has been a marine.”
A few weeks before Christmas in the recession of 1981, Ed Roebuck had been trying to make a living in construction, while spending evenings and nights working on his drawings which had begun to achieve recognition. A court order was placed on the 60 works in a one-man show in local gallery which Roebuck believed would then be auctioned off to cover a relatively small amount of debt. Frustrated, he went to the gallery an hour before closing with a spray can and painted a black “X” across all the works. “Suddenly, this democracy of ours felt dirty, as if the money merchants had totally overrun the village; all hell flew in me. I felt cornered, so I took action, with spray can in one hand and tears in my eyes. Marines don’t like being cornered.”
Roebuck’s action made national news – people could relate to his frustration. By the end of the next day half the work had been sold and the debt was settled and then the exhibition was invited to move to Washington DC, the heart of the US Government.
Brett Armory is Ed’s nephew and today not only pays homage to his uncle but also to the millions of ordinary, and often unrecognised extraordinary, people who support the economy of the United States and other countries in the western world.