Paul McNeil, The Munter (detail)
Paul McNeil was born in New Zealand but has spent the last 2 decades living, surfing and creating art in Australia. His first job ever was in an art room at a screen printers where one of his tasks was to work on “Gang Patches” altering the skulls and adjusting the motorbikes until they were at their menacing best.
This triggered the inspiration for his new work which encompasses his graphic interest in gang and surf culture.
“It seems to me that whilst the overtones of gang life are obviously supposed to be tough, a lot of the imagery used is actually very comical and outright funny”
Pauls ideas for all this were triggered from those early years of altering gang patches and of an incident in the city square where he lived at the time. Some rival gangs had a battle amongst lunchtime shoppers and tourists. Famously a gang member was captured on video being “tomahawked” in the shoulder. It’s also true that a lot of gangs in NZ do have Maori members and imagery.. and the predominant colors in Maori art are red white and black ..... the colors of Pauls region in sport and all else is red and black.
Surf culture in the 60’s was also full of German and military icons, Red barons, Iron crosses etc. a naive adoption of army imagery - something that somehow they claimed. Possibly because they were treated as outsiders and formed gangs just as any group would band together or is it because after wars there’s a huge surplus of clothes equipment and junk cheaply available....
Courtesy of Matt Campbell, Riviera Gallery, New York (June 2006)
Thanks to McTavish Surfboards, Wiz Fins and Sea Surfboards.
Horus & Deloris | Contemporary Art Space | Copyright © 2006