artist Australia 1980
edition of 20
sheet 50.0 (h) x 38.0 (w) cm
Acquired with the support of Calypso Mary Efkarpidis, 2010
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Full-lipped, with a delicate nose and glassy eyes, Jane is the perfect image of a melancholy model. The artist pasted her stencilled image on walls across Melbourne, confronting urban commuters with a representation of beauty drawn from the same fashion magazines they might buy at any newsstand or train station. “Dead Jane” is in fact a recurring persona in Rone’s work. Her fictional surname is revealed by the droll title of another closely-related stencil: Jane Doe. The glamour model is identified as the nameless female corpse of advertising culture. We see her everywhere, and she is therefore familiar to us; but she remains anonymous, and so we think of her as no one in particular. In Dead Jane, her doll-like visage appears in four states, disfigured by fragments of a red skull. The work thus functions as a memento mori, reminding us of the fate of living beauty, and of the brevity of youth and of fashion. But Jane also serves as a fitting emblem of the street artist’s own ephemeral craft. The multiple images in this four-panel composition can be read as a section of bill-postered wall, exposed to the elements. In the lower left-hand corner, the image is erased to reveal the printed pattern of underlying brickwork. This implied layering of stencils imitates the peeling of successive poster strata, as time uncovers images beneath images, before wiping them out entirely.