PUNK

Initially a musical movement started by young, disaffected members of the British working class during economic austerity, punk has since evolved into more of a myth than a movement, a potent set of references and signifiers for musicians and visual artists alike.

From the start, punk was a media sensation, and the attention paid to a movement with such transgressive attitudes made it ripe for appropriation by the more commercially minded. Though the Sex Pistols were one of the original bands of ‘78, even their manager, Malcolm McLaren, played up their “danger” for attention, and eventually, quite a good amount of money. To give another example, he helped transform his partner Vivienne Westwood’s edgy store, Sex, into a luxury fashion brand that would have been anathema to the original punks who frequented Westwood's store in its first iteration.

Despite the continued vitality of hardcore punk and post-punk music scenes, in the 21st century, punk is less of a noun to signify a movement, and more of an adjective, recognizable by the signs (safety pins, spikes) of the original subculture. Even a single accessory can evoke a “punk” aesthetic, as in the paintings of Brittany Shepherd, whose high-heeled shoes and hands gloved in latex evoke the fetish culture of BDSM, something that often overlapped with punk. These signifiers are almost overloaded in the paintings of Bel Fullana, whose raver figures, bearing fishnets and tattoos, are purposefully exaggerated, confrontational personas.

Bradley Biancardi, in contrast, avoids the figure or the accessories of punk, but focuses instead on an imaged lifestyle that seems messy and transgressive. His still-lives feature a sense of disorder: an iPhone running out of battery, house spiders, Q tips, cigarettes, skulls. Though the ephemera of punk is less apparent in the works of Jasmine Gregory, their aggressive brushstrokes reject staid conformism. Once a flag waived by a disillusioned youth, today, punk is just another way to think differently, and whether it brings about positive change or merely revels in nihilism, it provides an important critique of the status quo.