Sydney artist explores queer aesthetics

Troy Nankervis

Sydney artist Guy James Whitworth is presenting a new exhibition of works at the 2014 Sydney Mardi Gras.
Sydney artist explores queer aesthetics

Image: Guy James Whitworth

In A Queer Aesthetic, Sydney based visual artist Guy James Whitworth hopes to address the ways in which sexuality can affect how we see the world.

Opening at the Pine Street Gallery in Chippendale, A Queer Aesthetic rounds out a trilogy of exhibitions. While 2010′s Like Neon Within explored spirituality and 2011′s One Day You’ll Understand was primarily about the aging process, this time Whitworth has addressed sexuality. 

‘I’m not aiming this exhibition at a queer crowd, not my usual demographic which is a LGBTQI crowd, [rather] I’m aiming it at the idea that other people from mainstream society will look and see that actually, there is humanity in the eyes of the people sitting for the portraits I am taking, and also for the way in which I see the world,’ he said. 

‘The world around me isn’t too dissimilar from the way they see the world, except perhaps it’s just a little more colourful and a little more exaggerated.’

Whitworth, who works primarily with ink on paper, is once again using his signature style of bright neon colours. He said moving to Australia from the UK twelve years ago changed the way in which he approached his craft, moving away from a monochrome palate.

‘I really loved the light in Australia, after a while of living here I used light a lot more, and started using a lot more colour, and that’s the palate I’m going for [in the exhibition] which is a bright, neon, over the top palate.’   

Whitworth said the subtext of this exhibition, which lends itself to influences ranging from 80s pop-rock androgyny to medieval heraldry, was subconsciously done. ‘I didn’t set out to do this when designing the exhibition. I’ve been drawn a lot to medieval heraldry and have been incorporating that into the work.’

‘Standing back and looking at my work, I’ve kind of liked the idea of the iconography of heraldry symbols as a call to arms, a call to action, a revolution if you want.’

‘The revolution I’m hoping to provoke is a not a physical or violent one, it's a revolution of how people see the world around us, and to realise that actually there are other people in the world, and to up the level of consideration we show to people around us.’ 

Whitworth said his exhibition connects perfectly with the overarching symbol of a kaleidoscope at this year’s Mardi Gras festival. ‘It really ties in, those two parallels. The way I see my world around me is mega colourful, super colour and over the top. Very brash but lively.’ 

A Queer Aesthetic is a free exhibition running at the Pine Street Gallery, Chippendale, from Wednesday 19 February to Monday 3 March 2014 for the 2014 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras

Visit the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras website for more information.

About the author

Troy Nankervis is an ArtsHub journalist from Melbourne. Follow him on twitter @troynankervis