Politics and puff paint with Alice Lang

Alice Lang draws unlikely elements together: puff paint, usually used for craft, with a psychedelic and protest movement aesthetic; marbled paper; slang and swear words; smiley faces on ceramic ‘dad bod’ torsos; and a beaded curtain made from novelty male genitalia straws. It looks compelling, colourful, low-tech and vibrant, and packs a feminist punch that emerges from the swirling patterns, floppy surfaces and intense colour.

With artworks that appear decorative, Lang delivers a message about gender stereotyping, body politics and the double standards that have existed for so long within patriarchal power structures. As a recent painting of Lang’s suspended from the ceiling at QUT Art Museum suggests in its text, cut out from marbled puff paint, “NEVER AGAIN”.

Alice LANG, Believe Women 2020, marbled paper and acrylic on paper. Courtesy of the artist.

Lang left Brisbane for the United States in 2013 to complete a masters in fine art in Los Angeles, and has been based in California ever since. Flowah Powah is her most significant solo exhibition in Australia to date.

The show is mostly new work, with a few pieces from 2018 onwards providing context. Central to Lang’s art is the use of material as integral to meaning. As she says, “NEVER AGAIN refers to the rollback of women’s reproductive rights happening in the United States right now. Some paintings are made entirely out of puff paint and are floppy, a critique of the macho and heroic idea of painting. Puff paint is associated with decoration and clothing—but at this scale becomes a smothering force.”

Other works integrate humour with an exploration of swear words, including 40 Ways to Say Shit, 2018 Large grids are presented like concrete poems to explore the vernacular, with text emerging from marbled patterns.

Flowah Power’s witty texts destabilise our expectations with aesthetic appeal, speaking to often uncomfortable themes using humour.

Flower Powah
Alice Lang
QUT Art Museum
On now—1 October

This article was originally published in the July/August 2023 print edition of Art Guide Australia.

Preview Words by Louise Martin-Chew