ROBERT ROONEY @ TOLARNO GALLERIES, MELBOURNE

Robert Rooney, Le Rire: Signes d’Intelligence (GOD), 2010, acrylic on canvas, 86 x 141.5cm. Courtesy the artists and Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne

THE FIVE PAINTINGS in Robert Rooney’s latest exhibition are based on images by cartoonists who signed themselves Picq, Vire and GOD. These cartoons were sourced from copies of Le Rire, a French satirical magazine that Robert Rooney found in a second-hand bookshop in 1999.

Le Rire (Laughter) was founded by Felix Juven in October 1894, in a climate of anti-government feeling fuelled by the Drefus Affair.  As a product of the Belle époque, it counted among its contributors, artist and illustrators such as Toulouse-Lautrec, Jean-Louis Forain and Théophile Steinlen. The journal ceased publication in the 1950s, only to be revived for a short time in the 1970s.

Since the early 1990s, when Rooney began using illustrations in obscure childrens’ books as the basis for paintings, he has avoided images that can be pinned down to a particular period.  He says he ‘would never use Manga or Boys Own Annual style illustrations because their origins would be instantly recognizable.’

Though the French Laughter images could be mistaken for an example of 1950s ‘cartoon modern’, the 1937 cartoons have the timeless quality he prefers.  The French Laughter paintings are titled after the captions for the cartoons.

Until May 8 2010
ROBERT ROONEY
FRENCH LAUGHTER_LE RIRE: HOMMAGE TO PIQU, VIVE AND GOD
TOLARNO GALLERIES, MELBOURNE

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