Not signed. Not dated. Not titled. Not inscribed.
printed image (irregular) 90.3 (h) x 76.3 (w) cm
Gordon Darling Australia Pacific Print Fund 2007
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
© James Dodd
James Dodd (Dlux) is recognised as one of the most prominent stencil artists in Australia. A trained artist, his provocative and distinctive works have their roots in socio-political poster art of the 1970s, and are often delivered with a strong political message.
In the screenprint Johnny Dodd has used a two tone stencil to depict the former Australian Prime Minister John Howard. The image of the politician is a familiar one, and could be taken from any newspaper during the years of his prime ministership, 1996 - 2007.
Johnny is part of a series of work produced by Dodd in 2003 entitled ‘Occupied territory’. The series included stencilled images of contemporary political figures, including George W Bush, Saddam Hussein, Elizabeth II, Osama Bin Laden and John Howard were displayed all over the city of Melbourne. By exhibiting the works in a public domain the images are broadcast to - and potentially connect with - the masses. Dodd literally ‘occupies the territory’, in this case the buildings and walls of the city, with his works of art, while at the same time mirrors a loaded term that became a throwaway line during the Iraq war. By placing Johnny in the same context as other political figures such as Osama Bin Laden, Dodd asks the viewer to reflect on who is perceived as good and evil in the political domain and why.
The application of the two layers – one black, one grey – gives the image a camouflage effect, evocative of army fatigues. By making this reference Dodd links Howard to the Australian forces serving in Iraq, the irony being that although Howard was responsible for the Australian army’s presence in the country, he himself would never be involved in the armed conflict.