Hazel Dooney

George Hatzigeorgiou, Lucky Magazine #22, August 2004

In her upcoming exhibition 'Self vs Self' Melbourne artist Hazel Dooney explores the dualities of the self (notions of good/bad, conscious/subconscious) as well as the ideas of self-destruction, self-exploitation and eroticism. Lucky caught up with the artist to find out more...

In this series you say that you are interested in exploring dualities of the self, could you explain this concept further? I am interested in the idea of dualism, that everything has two independent underlying principles such as right and wrong, want and need, idealism and materialism, form and content, order and chaos, etc (ad infinitum). I am particularly interested in theories of the conscious and subconscious minds, their influence on each other and conflict between the two, especially in relation to people behaving in a self-destructive way and the struggle to be the master of one's own mind.
There is a strong pop culture element to your work, what influences you to work in this particular style? I have always liked line work and drawing and the use of outlines in my paintings is really an extension of that. Initially I was very interested in graffiti and my method of painting is still very similar to that of graffiti artists and writers except I mostly use a brush instead of a spray can. My work also tends to be influenced by advertising and fashion so I find it interesting to use a similar visual language to explore ideas rather than sell a product.
There is also a strong comic book style to your work, is this a medium you are interested in? I grew up reading horror comics like Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella (I like Jose Gonzalez's Vampirella best) as well as Wonder Woman and Catwoman so I think the comic book style and the way female characters were presented in those comics has definitely influenced me. They were strong, capable, sexy and dangerous and that still appeals to me. I also like early Aeon Flux but am not currently interested in creating images with a narrative or doing illustration. I have become more interested in painting and looking at the works of other painters. Although I like and respect the work of people like comic book artist and writer Frank Miller I am effected far more profoundly by the work of painters such as Goya, Francis Bacon and Philip Guston.
It’s interesting that you choose to address what are essentially dark themes with such vivid and glossy images, can you explain your attraction to this juxtaposition? Our society seems obsessed with image and the quest for physical perfection (or at least the illusion of it). The surfaces of my paintings are relatively free from brush-marks and I use materials, colours and figures that are intended to be appealing and desirable. The colours are bright, the paint looks wet and permanently new, the reflective vinyl shimmers, the women are sexy and perfectly posed even in the midst of turmoil. The surface of the painting becomes a smooth, shiny, opaque veneer. I like the contrast and tension between the veneer of the painting and the themes I'm exploring with my choice of imagery, it echoes my interest in the duality of the internal and external self.
Does this current series differ from your previous work, if so how? Each series has a distinct concept however there are some recurrent themes throughout most of my work such as voyeurism, eroticism and innuendo.
Conception, execution or completion, which part of your creative process gives you the most satisfaction? My experience of satisfaction isn't really related to a particular part of the creative process. I feel moments of satisfaction when I have overcome a challenge, resolved an idea that wasn't working, when I notice that my skills have improved and when I have done something to the best of my ability.
You have worked on a number of group exhibitions in the past, do you enjoy this format or do you prefer to exhibit as an individual? I enjoy solo exhibitions because I can thoroughly explore ideas and themes of my choice and I like participating in group exhibitions when they're well curated, it's interesting to see different interpretations of a theme. I haven't collaborated with another artist before but am planning to do so with Jeremy Kibel, a Melbourne artist whose paintings, drawings and method of working are very different from my own. I think it's important not to limit myself to only one format.