‘No Fun for Hayley’ (2014).
The writer, artist and critic John Berger was right when he said a viewer has to be in front of a work of art before they can fully appreciated it. Alas, we’ll just have to make do with digital copies of Hayley Arjona’s giant canvases—some reaching up to fifty feet in length—but I’m sure we can still appreciate her incredible talent and originality in producing beautiful, complex, trippy, comic, psychedelic pictures.
Hayley Arjona is an Australian artist based in North Central, Victoria. She works out of a converted hay barn on a farm where she raises free range pigs and sheep. Hayley studied for a Masters of Fine Art at the Victorian College of Arts, Melbourne in 1999, before beginning her career as an artist.
Apart from painting and raising pigs, Hayley works as a set painter on films (Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark) and TV productions. She paints in her studio while while blasting out “progressive psy-trance or Doom/Sludge metal and Psychedelic rock.” It helps her get into the right mood to produce such brilliant luminous nearly Day-glo canvases. To get the colors just right she mixes fluorescent dry pigment into oils—“Once bitten by these hyper colours it’s hard to look back!”
I never know what to say about my work, there is just so much in there. Some stuff I meant, some stuff which just happens and some stuff which happens because I don’t know what I mean yet.
The grotesque and exaggerated characters and abundant use of colour serve to make light of an undercurrent of darkness. The darkness I believe inherent in our collective Australian psyche. Things too unbearable to consider without humour and satire. The degradation of our existence, our society, of people and the environment from greed, apathy and ignorance. Perhaps it is ridiculous to see beauty in any of this, but I am compelled to appreciate my surroundings. With the drastic changes in the landscape from season to season, sky watching for rain, there is much here to inspire.
Bodies swell out of trees and landscapes while breasts suckle and faces turn into genitalia as skulls erupt out of mouths and litter the ground. Her paintings contrast the rich fecundity of life with the fatal stupidity of humans. In A-Bomb Stigmata (2016) a man is seemingly masturbated while atomic clouds mushroom overhead. Is this the last biological imperative for life even at the moment of death—in the way when men who were executed by hanging were said to ejaculate at their extinction? Or merely fiddling while the world burns? It’s apparent there is a tremendous amount of humor and warmth in these paintings which makes them doubly appealing.
Hayley has exhibited across Australia and Europe with her most recent exhibition Sicko-Delic held at the Caspa Gallery in Victoria last year. You can follow Hayley on Instagram and Facebook.
‘A-Bomb Stigmata’ (2016).
’Whole Lotta Rose’ (2014).
‘Bring It Down to Hughey “All the children are insane” (2015).
‘Rock’n'roll rednecks can’t get no satisfactual’ (2012).
‘Because We Can Can’ (2015).
Detail from ‘Introspection’ (2016).
‘The Way to a Man’s Heart is Through His Chest’ (2016).
‘The End of Your Armies’ (2016).
‘Tongue in Cheek’ (2017).
‘Circle Work’ (2016).
‘Already Dead’ (2015).
H/T Loud Alien Noise.