Toxical Waste – 2022/3

Oil on two joined canvasses. H108 x W122 cm

The title is derived from the pop song by Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour on his album Toxiques (1990). It has been common practice of developed countries to dump their poisonous waste in third world countries.

The senseless and unnecessary destruction wrought on Ukraine territory by Russia’s 2022 invasion initially inspired my imaging the noxious pollution of the atmosphere. No longer the welcoming vista of idyllic cloud formations in our panoramic view. This unfettered madness coalesced with the need to highlight our uncaring jettisoning of waste in capitalist (built-in redundancy) throw-away society. We care enough to sort out our detritus into various categories (bins) but then feel absolved of having to actually and effectively dispose of it. Late Industrial waste is either interred, fed into the oceans or released into the stratosphere and beyond.

Welcome to planet Earth and the dominant hominid species…..

Pot Luck: The Life of the Automobile – 2022.

Oil on canvas. H94 x W122 cm

Painting Inspired by Ilya Ehrenburg’s salient 1929 book “The life of the Automobile”. This understated masterpiece of writing is as relevant today as when it was conceived almost 100 years ago.

Pot hole dodging on Australian roads during the protracted La Niña is a game akin to dicing with death. An informal public response to this proliferation of road deterioration is to demarcate potholes with a (police-like) murder scene outline in white paint on the black bitumen surface. Here, as a sop to video artist Shaun Gladwell, the symbolic fatality is a skateboarder depicted in receding perspective.

The central figure is surrounded by a car tyre surmounted with Buffalo horns. This is a reference to Bull Bars often attached to the front of rural vehicles by drivers – to literally fend-off the danger to themselves of fatal accidents when wild animals are hit whilst travelling.

Colliding with and killing wildlife on Australian rural roads is a commonplace occurrence. Observing or causing roadkill is part of the Australian country way of life. It is often joked about and even celebrated by ‘truckies’ (large truck drivers) who often adorn the outside of their driving doors with painted symbols of their score of kills – hence the patterned wallpaper of kangaroos, echidnas and wedge tailed eagles – (Eagles are generally only hit when they are feeding off prior killed animals themselves). Notching-up kills was common practice particularly during WWII, when pilots of both sides attached painted decals of their adversaries just below their cockpits denoting the number of enemy planes shot down – which tallied-up towards them being designated as aces and treated as heroes.

Truck drivers, particularly in remote areas, often boast about going out of their way to kill animals on our roads.

There is nothing to celebrate in deliberately murdering fauna.

ps. In Broken Hill NSW there is such a proliferation of roadkill (usually caused every night by large trucks) that the City Council employs someone to pick up and clear the roads daily. If left to rot, the bodies strewn across the roads are  perceived to cause distress to tourists – who are bussed-in to experience the City of The Arts from all across the country. The carcasses of the roadkill are then unceremoniously dumped in the ‘meathole’ at the City Tip.


Noel Tovey 2009

Portrait painting of actor Noel Toveyauthor of “Little Black Bastard”. by Victor Gordon     Preparatory pencil sketch for portrait oil painting

Oil on canvas
122 x 183 cm

Winner Bathurst Portrait Prize 2010.

Noel Tovey – actor, dancer, singer, director, choreographer, writer and teacher and author of “Little Black Bastard”

Noel Tovey is a very well known Australian theatrical celebrity. He made his name in the sixties in major West end productions such as Oh Calcutta, the Boy Friend and Anything Goes etcetera

Noel Tovey’s autobiography “The Little Black Bastard” has attracted major interest both locally and internationally.

The composition of my portrait was conceived after consideration of Noel as an ‘elder statesman’ of the theatre and the salient fact that while still theatrically active he is essentially currently concentrating on intimate and very personal introspective concerns.

In a relatively large scale painting I sought to establish an up close tactile surface, a microscopic investigation of Noel’s face. Ideally I hoped to penetrate his actor’s ability to present and control his outer demeanour behind a theatrical mask and convey some of the sense of the intensity of his current personal introspection. I chose a low (staged) view point, cropping the face to the essential landmarks, even angling the head to only permit visual access to only one eye, so as to convey his single (minded) focus. This single eye does not confront the viewer but instead gazes off into the distance somewhat meditatively. By painting in a semi-modernist flat bi-coloured background, I attempted to establish a sense of quietude, an alternative to the intensity of the large scale close-up naturalistic countenance. But unlike the portrait, if seen as a naturalistic horizon, it has an elevated viewpoint. Ideally these two simultaneous viewpoints intensify a metaphoric and visual tension.

Glory be to God for dappled things 2010

Painting Oil on canvas - Glory be to God for dappled things 2010

Oil on canvas
152 x 183 cm

The title of this large scale camouflaged reclining nude is the first line of a Gerard Manly Hopkins poem. In my work, neither the woman nor the aeroplane, are naturally dappled. Only the chameleon, whose changeability is natural, has yet to recognise real impending danger and camouflage or “dapple” himself. The chameleon has particular personal significance for me as a totemic symbol and besides its potential to effectively alter it’s appearance or disappear, it also has a primal erotic function; a dildo reposing in a purpose-built niche. Closer inspection of the composition could reveal more erotic references. The book depicted is the Penguin edition of the “Story of the eye” by George Bataille which is the quintessential erotic novel of the early twentieth century and on its cover is the last art work of Marcel Duchamp also considered to be an erotic masterwork. The pose is appropriated from one of a number of Titian’s Danae. It depicts the mythological fable about how Jupiter seduced Danae by showering her with gold. In my image the gold is replaced with the imminent danger and violence of the dive bombing Nazi Stuka, whose klaxon (screaming silently) still has the power to terrify its intended victim. However, the chameleon-like woman is in no way intimidated, if anything she is somewhat aroused by the impending danger. The salient difference between the original depiction and my image is that whereas (the male) Jupiter essentially sexually violated Danae, my reclining nude is stimulating herself. She is the “mistress of her own domain”. (Seinfeld)