‘Hawez, Nah Man!’, 2020. 200cm x 120cm x 2cm. Oil and acrylic on canvas.
‘Heather Lennon’ was a graphic novel with three paintings referencing its pages, made in 2011. ‘Nah Man’ and ‘Hawez’ are reimagining’s of two of these (see first ‘Looking for up’, 2019) paintings. ‘Heather Lennon’ was in hindsight quite a reactionary, angry and naïve series picking Heather Mills apart and asserting that she had previously wanted to marry John Lennon and had jumped ship after Yoko came on the scene. Drawing mock-heroic beginnings from Alexander Popes (1712) ‘The rape of the lock’ -this tongue in cheek graphic novel manipulated reality for satirical purposes and in so doing documented a long list of negatives attributed to the celebrity. The latter-day painting was a perfect illustration of how the Media indoctrinates the masses into thinking that women who are concerned with money, fame or power are bad. This portrayal of strong women being predatory in glossy magazines and the interweb is detrimental to the emancipation of the female race-as how could the balance between the sexes be readdressed without robust leaders?
Nine years later Massey has tried to bury the negativity of yester year and instead present the second & third canvas ‘Nah Man’ and ‘Hawez’: A diptych which further illustrates the double standards and deep-seated misogyny which have existed since the Ancient Greeks.
Both canvas therefore nigh on obliterate the original image of Heather Mills gurning after leaving court post Paul McCartney divorce procedures. Motifs from Mills & Massey’s shared childhoods in the North East are seen in the Greggs Sausage roll, Newkie Brown, Pease Pudding and Jimmy Nail’s ‘Crocodile shoe(s)’. Whilst imagery pulled from Hesiod’s [‘Works and Days 700BC] account of Pandora and the manner in which she essentially f**ked the world also expunge the old paintings.
Peeping through and covering Greek tragedy masks ‘Hawez’ incorporates a much rougher replica of the original ‘Eva Prima Pandora’ painting by Jean Cousin (1550) along its base. A singular Fennel floats to the side of Pandora and speaks of the Fennel sack that Prometheus carried the fire that reigns from the sky down to earth. The owl which swoops amidst these flames is the Owl of Athene who along with many Gods bequeathed Pandora with her gifts and in so doing her name (Pandora: Greek, Πανδώρα: ‘all-endowed’ ‘all-gifted’). Emerging and meandering through Greek Comedy Masks Mount Olympus and the origin of Prometheus’ theft anchor ‘Nah Man’. A swallow flies along the top of the canvas symbolising the hope which was left in the jar as its author-Hesiod- to its right is literally on his head. Combined the diptych tells an eclectic version of one of the oldest stories on the planet. A story which certainly encompasses Comedy and Tragedy as it set in motion the defamation of female character.