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"Birdy®", Fred de Jager, 2017


Acrylic on Canvas
50 x 40 cm
I have appropriated the design of this Eastern canned coffee, painted in acrylic in a Lichtensteinian way, to mimic the screen-printing process employed by the mass media. This movement is mirrored in the way the subject itself, “canned coffee”, emulates fresh coffee. Unlike the ease implied by this product, however, the painting process was slower and more deliberate, though at the same time retaining a sense of this canned “artificiality” through the use of acrylics instead of oils. The scale and perspective of the can itself is also imposing, dictating the viewer’s vantage point and thereby reducing them to the position of the subject: the product looks down at the viewer, claiming control and dominance. Taking a “popularised” image (and a objet trouve, a la google) and transforming and elevating it from the ordinary to art in a Warholian popart fashion, is also suggestive of coffee culture: the ultimate consumerist practice, where coffee is the “liquid internet” feeding into the mind: keeping awake the weary, inspiring the thinkers and sealing the deals around the table, it is consumerisms mental lubrication – the crude oil that keeps it going – but in extracting it, it also leaves a stain on the environment. It is a drug some humans cannot get enough of, from a pretty white flower we end up tossing and turning at night from too much of a “good” thing. Is this the tail wagging the dog?