“Linda Marrinon’s painting ‘How I hate sexism’ is one of a group of artworks generously donated by Michael Eliadis to The University of Queensland Art Collection in 2014. Painted in 1982 at the very beginning of her career, Marrinon’s sassy young woman looks ready to take on the cultural assumptions of her era. We’re delighted to represent the artist with such a bold early work, and thank Michael for his ongoing support.” — UQ Art Museum Associate Director (Curatorial) Michele Helmrich
About the artist
Linda Marrinon combines imagery drawn from fine art and popular culture to create paintings that express her Pop Art sensibility and allow her to dissect gender conventions.1 Marrinon was born in Melbourne in 1959. In 1982 she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Fine Art (Painting) from the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA), Melbourne, and went on to establish a significant profile. Her painting I sailed to Tahiti with an all-girl crew (1982) was used to illustrate an essay published in the influential journal Art & Text and written by Paul Taylor, the editor of the journal. The following year Marrinon was included in the exhibition Vox pop: Into the Eighties at the National Gallery of Victoria, and was the youngest female artist to be included in the second Australian Perspecta.2
In 1988, Marrinon was appointed a lecturer in painting and drawing at Gippsland Institute of Advanced Education, Albury. Marrinon completed a Masters of Arts Fine Art (Sculpture) at the VCA in 1999 and, after this time, developed this aspect of her practice. In the past decade, she has exhibited relatively few paintings, dedicating herself to creating small sculptures that evoke classical and nineteenth-century models and playing with the distinction between figuration and abstraction.3
Marrinon’s work is held by the National Gallery of Australia; Australian National University, Canberra; National Gallery of Victoria; Ian Potter Museum of Art, University of Melbourne; Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney; Art Gallery of South Australia; Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art; Art Gallery of Western Australia; and in corporate and private collections in Australia. The monograph Linda Marrinon: Let her try by art historian Chris McAuliffe was published in 2007 by Craftsman House.
About the work acquired
The female figure in Linda Marrinon’s How I hate sexism (1982) takes a defiant stance that is underlined by Marrinon’s title – her use of the pronoun ‘I’ suggests the painting is self-referential. While realised in simplified outlines and bright, comic-strip colours, Marrinon’s painting also recalls the work of French Realist painter Édouard Manet (1832–1883). Specifically, she evokes Manet’s painting Le Fifre [The Fifer] (1866) borrowing from its composition, scale, Manet’s use of broad patches of solid colour, and his depiction of a humble subject in a heroic posture. In this sense, both paintings subvert expected hierarchies – Manet elevating a fifer rather than an officier supérieur; Marrinon championing an ordinary woman over a ‘great’ man.
The cartoon-like style of the painting is both engaging and a strategy that Marrinon has used to focus on more serious issues. Art historian Robyn McKenzie has argued that cartoons function as a carnivalesque space in which conventional social relationships can be subverted. In Marrinon’s works, these inversions take the form of alternative aesthetic and gender structures. McAuliffe has described Marrinon’s approach as being ‘variously identified as the embodiment of postmodern irony, genre-bending Pop-Art, wry feminist humour, later modernist nostalgia, or simply as [an expression of ] an eccentric, independent spirit.’4 By combining caricature with aspects of Realism, Marrinon transverses aesthetic conventions of high and low art. Furthermore, her subject’s proud, confident demeanour and peculiar green skin – undifferentiated from the green background – disrupts traditional gendered relationships between artist and subject. Historically, female subjects were cast by male painters as passive and idealised, depicted for the enjoyment of an assumed male gaze.
Marrinon completed How I hate sexism in 1982, the year she gained her undergraduate degree. That year, she painted another work on a similar theme, What I must bear (1982), in which the same figure is bowed down by a cross bearing the words ‘prejudice’ and ‘misunderstanding’. Marrinon’s discontent with the lack of adequate female representation in the arts reflected the concerns of the broader feminist community at that time. This disadvantage was documented in the Women and Arts Project report, published by Australia Council in 1982.
How I hate sexism was donated by Michael Eliadis through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program and is the first example of Marrinon’s work to enter the UQ Art Collection. It resonates with other works already held including Davida Allen’s paintings Woman or housewife or Davida with vacuum cleaner (1986) and I live and work here I am Dr Michael Shera’s wife (n.d.), which explore feminist discourse in a simplified faux naïf style. Furthermore, as a painting in which Marrinon references herself, How I hate sexism could be regarded as an addition to The University of Queensland’s National Collection of Artists’ Self Portraits.
Emily Poore, Curatorial Assistant, April 2015.
1. Robyn McKenzie, “Linda Marrinon: A human comedy,” Art & Text 48 (1994): 62.
2. Chris McAuliffe, Linda Marrinon: Let her try (Fishermans Bend, Vic: Craftsman House, 2007), 17–20.
3. Ibid. 76.
4. Ibid. 8.