New Town Synth



During the Covid pandemic, cities ground to a silent halt as urban centres were reluctantly abandoned for life indoors during lockdown. In New Town Synth, Johnny Romeo pays homage to the vibrant hustle and bustle of the inner city with a painting that oozes with an irrepressible indie rock spark and urban chic. The work depicts a defiant rooster clad in a leather jacket striking a pose that evokes the iconic album cover of David Bowie’s landmark 1977 album ‘Low’. In the same way Bowie used his music to express his fascination and observations of city life during his Berlin Trilogy period, the metropolitan rooster image is used as a loud and proud symbol of a Sydney yearning to return to the frenetic energy and excitement that once drove it. Drawing on the ancient symbolism of the rooster as a talisman of hope and resurrection in the Chinese Zodiac, Romeo’s rooster is a well-dressed, daring, and gregarious figure who exemplifies the effortless hipster cool of Sydney as it rises from the suburban slumber of lockdowns. Allusions to Sydney’s happening inner- city are made through the painting’s jubilant title New Town Synth, with its clear nod to the thriving cultural and culinary streets of Newtown. At the same time, Romeo acknowledges the way Corona has pushed the thumping beats of dance music into the interiority of the home through the word ‘synth’, a reference to the rise in producers making electronic music from the comfort of their own bedrooms. While living room discos and kitchen dance halls have given us momentary thrills during the Corona pandemic, the painting ultimately calls on the audience to stay true to the promise of cities opening again through the word assemblage ‘So Thriller’ So Trill’, a hip-hop term for ‘True Real’.

Additional information

Dimensions 153 × 153 × 10 cm

Acrylic & oil on canvas