Strip Club

Strip Club

Strip Club

Dimensions: 176x106cm

Medium: Oil on Canvas and a Projector




Strip Club Sequence, moving image painting, 4mins, 2017 (collection of the artist)

Living back in Berlin in 2016 and looking for a subject, I landed on the idiosyncratic and kitsch Berlin pub, Kneipe or Ecke as they are called. They are typically quite trashy but always visually interesting, making for something of a cultural experience. Generally blue collar with the patrons not speaking much English, one has to rely on speaking German to have any sort of conversation with a local Berliner. In this series, I painted two of these scenes, a Berlin Techno Club and more recently the only Karaoke Bar in Berlin.

On my return to Dunedin later that same year I wanted to paint something provincial in a similar vein and decided that a strip club couldn't get much more kitsch or trashy. It is an empty, desolate and dissolute scene but yet is painted in an attractive way, with strong complementary colours and inviting composition.

Broadly speaking this continues a theme in my practice wherein I paint an ugly subject very well, creating a tension with the viewer, where perhaps the first instinct is to look away but they are then drawn back to it. The moving image shows a slow-motion spin around the pole, exhibiting grace and beauty but as an act, we often associate pole-dancing with the male gaze and an inherent sexism. The soundtrack, Tchaikovsky's Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, is reminiscent of a simple child's toy with the edited slow-motion spin around the pole evocative of the ballerina inside the box, adding another layer and contrasting idea.

There is a second cut of the video which shows the strip routine in its entirety. This alludes to the commissioned 'alternative' nude of European bourgeois society, meant only for private viewing, Goya's La Maja Vestidaand La MajaDenuda being a clear example. The title also refers to the moving image work Storm Sequenceby the Australian artist Shaun Gladwell, a lone skateboarder spinning on a bleak ocean-front, before an oncoming storm.

The artwork as a whole attempts a Lynchian aesthetic with a strangely dark fascinating beauty.

Sam Foley, October 2020
This artwork was a Wallace Art Award Finalist in 2017



Sam Foley