Janine Dello

Solo Exhibitions

Would anyone really care if I didn’t go to the party?, oil on linen, 76 x 84cm

Dressed in broken promises, oil on linen, 84 x 76cm

Illuminate, oil on linen, 84 x 76cm

At least I knew who I was when I woke up this morning, oil on linen, 102 x 122cm

No money and no decent clothes, oil on linen, 102 x 122cm

Mercury is in retrograde, oil on linen, 74 x 85cm

Is there something better than this?, oil on linen, 40 x 40cm

Starving, oil on linen, 40 x 40cm

Stop fucking saying sorry, oil on linen, 40 x 40cm

Note to self, oil on linen, 40 x 40cm

My burden, oil on linen, 76 x 84cm

Driven by desire, oil on linen, 76 x 84cm

Ready, oil on linen, 81 x 86cm

Private View, oil on linen, 102 x 76cm

Someone said if I grew my hair you might come back, oil on linen, 76 x 84cm

Never again, oil on linen, 61 x 75cm

Remains of myself, oil on linen, 71 x 51cm

Notes to Self, BMG Art Gallery, Adelaide, 2-16 February 2019

Artist Statement:

The art I make is a reaction to what I see in contemporary female culture and my views on the ‘appearance industry’. I find inspiration through my own emotions and the experiences of the females around me – the face we present to the world and the layers we conceal. I explore our complicated relationship with the expectations we place on ourselves in the ‘performance of femininity’, questioning our obsession with the embodied-self.

My new body of work for BMG Gallery, titled “Notes to Self” plays upon the apparent illogic of female desire surrounding self-image. This series is a meditation on self-acceptance, but beneath the gloss there’s deeper meanings, as I like to explore ambivalent emotions because of my relationship to self.

The use of a provocative aesthetic is deliberate to draw attention to ongoing societal issues of body image. I feel women are vulnerable to commodification and patriarchal exploitation. The female gaze is complex and self-critical. I seek to empathize yet question the reasons we desire (to be) the idealized cultural norm. Is it that we still crave the male gaze? We worry about our appearance, yet we don’t want to be judged or objectified. Thus, I aim to continue a dialogue around these issues and for the viewer to extract their own meanings lying below the surface.

To read an Exhibition essay by emerging artist and writer, Kate O’Boyle, please scroll to the bottom of this page.

Exhibition Companion Essay

Notes to Self presents a series of paintings by Janine Dello that reflect on ways we experience being a body/having a body, when subject to Western standards of female beauty.

Janine paints a very specific type of woman – young, white, delicate, withdrawn - women straight out of a Sophia Coppola film or a high-end cosmetic ad. Women that possess beauty as an absolute; the type met with slow, sedated gestures of approval.

Collectively, their delicately folded bodies form a mass of white flesh that lures with a pristine radiance. There is no escaping the surface of these bodies. Fragmented and closely cropped, they push towards you in invitation. The effect of their surround is a claustrophobic assault of whiteness.

These nymphs are fixed in poses that have become so commonplace they operate on the collective conscience as a background hum. Breasts are coyly disguised behind draped arms, mouths pursed open in invitation, balletic hands frame tilted faces. These are poses women have been holding for centuries. Employed to simultaneously disguise and reveal the female body, they confirm the subject’s dual sensuality and passivity. Women must be sexy but not sexual. Everything is hinted at but never shown in its reality.

These women represent a narrowly defined, default-position beauty that is realised only through an obsessive polishing. Contemporary media’s dedication to upholding these strict parameters ultimately seeks to obliterate; rendering invisible anything that doesn’t uphold the status quo. This is how power is maintained. Anything too dark, too marked, too big, too queer is removed in a way that is so automatic it seems almost natural. What remains is a constant and unrelenting repetition of sameness, and an expectation that those who don’t fit will just have to keep trying.

Propelled into cycles of self-inspection, Janine’s women are at once in, and displaced from, their bodies. Ritualised checking - pulling, picking, pinching – sees the body become a site of self-directed violence. The flesh becomes a surface to be inspected - tools administered to magnify and rectify are employed to eliminate anything stray and seemingly abhorrent. Self-monitoring keeps desire and self-actualisation in check; it makes sure you’re tied to your body as a project. The time and energy this takes keeps you passive and distracted, your gaze directed inwards rather than out. Your body becomes a site through which you seek to play out other people’s desire, forcing you into an endless cycle of looking rather than feeling.

When women’s bodies are co-opted to play out misogynistic, racialised and gendered notions of identity and value, misbehaving bodies become potential sites of resistance. Bodies that don’t conform, and refuse to try, become ways of unlearning established modes of power. Janine’s women perform the desire of others in exchange for their own; a high stakes game that keeps the player in a constant state of anxious motion. Daring to unlearn where and how to look, while allowing our bodies and those of others to be unruly, promises to shift ways beauty is realised in the world.

Kate O’Boyle is an emerging artist and writer based in Adelaide, South Australia.