• Bombshells 2 Carl Gopal 2015
  • Bombshells 4 Carl Gopal 2015
  • Bombshells 1 Carl Gopal 2015
  • Marilyn Carl Gopal 2015
  • The Experiment Carl Gopal 2017
  • Beyond the heights of compassion 2017 Carl Gopal

Strange Fruit

Music is incredibly important in my process. Last year I was inspired by Billie Holiday's 1939 recording of her song Strange Fruit as a lens, much as I used Ethel Waters' rendition of Suppertime from Irving Berlin's 1933 broadway revue As Thousands Cheer; Gary Numan's 1979 new wave song Cars for my Diana paintings; lyrics from Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific for my There is Nothing Like a Drone and most weird even for me, The Nolan Sisters' 1979 pop hit Gotta Get Myself Together for my painting The Immaculate Contraption which I exhibited at the International Intervention workshop in the UK in 2012.

In Media Res (like me! like me!)

I find the term in media res a very interesting one, and am using it as a little bridge to explore my life. I like the term specifically as the author S.Batty Page used it in her much under-appreciated and maligned 1995 book American Monroe The Making of a Body Politic, which used the actress Marilyn Monroe as  a "representative character" of our time and explores the "vocabulary of memory" and how culture plays a vital role in how we see ourselves and our shared history. For my paintings Bombshells 1-3 and Beyond the heights of compassion, I look at the vulnerability of youth through social media while under the pressures of extreme trends not unlike fashon culture.

In Monroe Page writes that, "mass mediated rememberings authorise public being while simultaneously eroding older forms of popular representation," and therefore that "the space of politics is re-constituted through these mass mediated remembering as a space of virtual performance".  For me, this is also the space where selphies, reality shows and fake news intersect.

Page was the unrecognised philosopher and psychiatrist for the internet age we are living through, and sadly, she passed away soon after her book was trashed by the New York Times.  Her most memorable statement for me is her sentence, "The dead are some of the most powerful figures in the virtual realm". Remember back in 2011 I was working on my painting about artificial life with Jennifer Miro from The Nuns? I think of Jennifer when I think of that quote on the power of the dead. What must young people think as their anxiety pushes them to the nearest exit? How vulnerable they must feel. I remember that feeling, but never had access to the internet when I was young, and for these beautiful young minds, today’s social media landscape has the quality of voices inside your head.

In Media Res for me is those voices, that schizophrenia that comes when you have too many narratives, without one to build your life and identity around or to build a community around. That feeling of being watched 24/7, and to have to watch others 24/7.

Studies for new canvases

 nights out at life drawing in Flinders Street...

Going back to basics, after 25 years, back to life drawing at night down on Flinders Street in Melbourne has been challenging but good. My work mixes and mashes styles and I'm always merging realism and abstract and surreal and anything that I need to tell the story. Sometimes it's nice to just do the one thing, like sharpening a pencil. These are pretty rough (they do really fast poses) so I'm hoping I can get back to where I was over two decades back.







'Strange Fruit'

Work in Progress 2015-2018

A selection of new works on canvas and paper. Series in progress.

This body of work is titled In media res and travels along four narrative arcs:

Some of the themes that I'm exploring include:

  • evolutionary thoughts on religion
  • neuro science and internet pornography
  • synthetic genomics and artificial life
  • "Fake news"  and the death of contextual being