Perusing the internet today, I read with interest that Canberra tattooist and artist Ex de Medici has been drawing moths. “Ex de Medici…is an Artist Fellow who drew extinct moths from the Australian National Insect Collection (at the CSIRO)”. Moths? Sweet little soft colourful moths?? What has happened to this tattoo artist who dwells on the ghoulish and the ghastly?
In the accompanying interview , Ex implies that she needed to be in protected premises, as if offered at the CSIRO offices, to keep in hiding from some outlaws. Bikies I presume. This sounds like yet another publicity stunt to keep her profile raised in the community.
Let me reflect. Ex started out as an artist by adopting the surname of the most famous Italian dynasty, the de Medicis. What stunning hubris! Madonna was at least part Italian before adopting her new name. (Alas you would want a name change if you are called Robin..). Ex called her tattoo parlour in North Lyneham ‘Deus ex Machina’. Ermm…that name comes from a motorbike company in Sydney. And in all her interviews that I’ve heard over the years, she never makes any mention of her partner of many years who introduced her to the world of tattoos and colourful subcultures in Canberra and Melbourne. Why not?? It seems to me that it is extremely important to Ex that her artistic ideas are seen as utterly her own.
Yes Ex is a good artist but there are many good artists out there. How does she distinguish herself? By painting images designed to shock and offend and polarise community opinion, with her skull art, militia icons, and images of graphic violence. Her website uses guns and bullet imagery in drop down menus (it’s a bit lame though..). Now she has applied to the National Gallery to display the preserved skin of a man to whom she has given a full body tattoo, when he karks it (he is 69 and has agreed to this). Yuk!!!
Many people admire Ex. They think she is ultra-contemporary and uber-cool. But can’t people see through her self promotion tactics? She is following in the footsteps of nude photographer Jim Henson, trying to gain notoriety through painting abhorrent images (including on stretches of preserved human skin) that agitate and offend. Then she does a major switch and draws her moth series and insists on not showing her face any more to add spice to the story that her life is under threat. (Now following in the steps of Salman Rushdie. So clever!!) What I see is a narcissist of epic proportions…