Fiona McMonagle – Titled

25 June to 25 July 2020

Commonly referred to as The culture of the people, Popular culture (also mass culture and pop culture) is defined as based on the tastes of ordinary people rather than an educated elite. Though the complexities of such a wide-reaching cultural phenomenon are far greater than education and class divides. As such Popular culture is generally recognised by members of a society as a set of practices, beliefs, or objects dominant or prevalent in a society at a given point in time.

Popular culture also encompasses the activities and feelings produced as a result of interaction with these dominant objects. Due to these engagements Popular Culture is commonly linked to Youth Culture with young people both actively consuming and being highly influenced by its practices and/or commodities. Until we reach maturity, for most of us popular culture is all we know and therefore it does retain great significance on shaping the people we become and the views we form. However, there are various ways to define pop culture. Because of this, popular culture is something that can be defined in a variety of conflicting ways by different people across different contexts.

This recent body of work ‘Titled’ speaks to such complexity and conflict via the portrayal of women in pop culture. The paintings in this series challenge us to question how we feel about powerful independent women, as well as exploring the way in which these portrayals may be viewed as either strengthening or marginalising.

The portraits in ‘Titled’ are of women who are variously considered Queens and Princesses – Crowned by the people. Traditional views of Queens and Princesses evoke images of greatness, divinity, fame and power. Images of Divas in particular are often idealised, figures of perfection, of almost divine beauty and radiance.

In ‘Titled’, McMonagle provokes the limitations and potential oppression of female empowerment by examining the compelling legacies and narratives of such popular icons across both the 20th and 21st centuries. Through these portrayals of pop icons who are: fragile and powerful; feminine and strong and independent, ‘Titled’ questions the role(s) of the empowered female. What sacrifices have these women made for their celebrity and what accolades have they been afforded? Finally, ‘Titled’ is a celebration of women – their struggles, complexities and their strengths.