‘Psychedelic’ insight into awe-inspiring art

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“Psychedelic Realism” at aMBUSH Gallery. Photo: Rob Kennedy

Arts / “Psychedelic Realism”, Reg Mombassa, at aMBUSH Gallery. Reviewed by ROB KENNEDY

SHOWCASING new and past works, “Psychedelic Realism”, on at aMBUSH Gallery in the Kambri Cultural Centre, ANU, is a highly colourful, almost glittering exhibition from one of Australia’s most loved artists, Reg Mombassa.

Scary, funny creatures, urban landscapes, adapted musical instruments, distended heads, bugs, and bug-out eyes, all with that direct and comical Mambo sensibility, along with a large vibrant crowd, filled the room at aMBUSH gallery on opening night.

Artist and musician Reg Mombassa, “aka” Chris O’Doherty, is famous for his visions of Australia and Australiana. The mocking, sometimes cynical sensibility in his art and his music attracts huge followings in this and other countries. His time with the band “Mental as Anything” saw the band and him become a household name. Sadly, the founder of “the Mentals”, as they were known, Andrew “Greedy” Smith died this week.

Reg Mombassa at the opening at aMBUSH Gallery. Photo: Rob Kennedy

The colourful and sometimes ribald artworks of Mombassa can’t help but make a viewer laugh while being amazed at his talent for portraying the outrageous, the weird and comical. There are works that immediately grab the eye; they pop out at the viewer.

Inside some of Mombassa’s paintings, there’s a darkness too; especially when it comes to his self-portraits. Plus, there is a constant jibe at authority, conformity and most of all, he doesn’t want to be taken too seriously. His art is fun.

There’s not much that Mombassa won’t throw his hand at when it comes to his visual art. There was even a small selection of still life artworks of vegetables. He is a true storyteller and activist in his art. Bible stories, animal rights, capitalism, social traditions, they all get his tongue-in-cheek treatment that springs from his brush. He is a modern cynic philosopher.

This is an exhibition of more than 70 works providing an insight into the mind of a unique artist. Psychedelic Realism will make visitors smile, wonder and feel a lot in awe of Mombassa’s tremendous talent, originality, drive and versatility.

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