The last time Adelaide audiences saw the work of Fiona McMonagle it was her first foray into working with oils in her 2017 exhibition A dog named Chop. Her current exhibition, Titled, sees McMonagle return to watercolour for which she is renowned. While the medium might differ, McMonagle continues her exploration into what affects you as a person.
While A dog named Chop focused on how your childhood and where you grow up can influence you as a person, reflecting the artist’s own Irish Catholic upbringing in Australia, Titled looks at popular culture and the eff ect it has, particularly on youth.
“I have always had a fascination with popular culture and what kind of influence it has,” says McMonagle. “When we are young, popular culture is what we mostly consume, and I am interested in how it affects us as people.”
This exhibition particularly explores the portrayal of women in popular culture, with McMonagle presenting strong, powerful women who are deemed Queens and Princesses by the people. McMonagle delves into notions of how we feel about these women and whether their status is strengthening or marginalising.
“I painted the Queen but I also painted Beyoncé. I have included actual queens and princesses but also popular culture queens and princesses such as Britney Spears, Kylie Minogue and Nina Simone,” explains McMonagle.
While the subjects are an integral part of McMonagle’s paintings, there is a point when it becomes about the process of making the work.
“I am interested in the application of paint. At some point the image becomes a vehicle for the paint and the way the subject is painted can really change the way you see it,” says McMonagle.