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Questions surrounding how we portray ourselves, and how we judge others, sit at the heart of Rona Green’s bold, yet strikingly simple, prints. By continuously anthropomorphising animals and situating them as ‘loners’ or ‘misfits’, the artist shows us how appearances are inevitably linked to our impressions and preconceptions. Green’s upcoming show at Bendigo Art Gallery summarises these explorations by bringing together a collection of her prints from the last decade.

Titled Champagne taste and lemonade pockets, the show features the prints that Green has become well known for: animals sporting several tattoos, simultaneously machismo and highly endearing.

Multiple identities are always at play in the artist’s images, which serve to explore the larger link between the personal and the collective. As Green says, “I’m looking at how people strive to be individual, but at the same time still crave being part of a tribe, group or gang.”

The tattoo plays a central role in Green’s imagery. She uses the trope to consider how the body can become a form of visual communication and expression. “I like the idea of people who wear tattoos trying to express their identities in an overt way,” she says. “Often people who have tattoos both reveal and conceal them, so you can communicate differently with different people at different times.”

Yet personal communication and expression is not a one-way street; it’s also about how we connect with others and the role of first impressions. As Green says, “In my work I play on questions like who is this person? Where are they from? What do they do? Do I like them or not?”

By confronting the depths and contradictions of her tattoo-bearing human-animal hybrids, the artist hopes her work prompts viewers to think about their own identities and to create their own impressions. “Part of human nature is that we are very quick to judge and categorise,” says Green. “I like the idea that perhaps when the audience is looking at my work it’s provoking them, or prompting them, to develop their own unique narratives and ideas.”

Champagne taste and lemonade pockets
Rona Green
Bendigo Art Gallery
24 June – 3 September

Tiarney Miekus