Wednesday, February 3, 2010

MORE ON MARK 'CHOPPER' READ...

HOW SCARY IS THIS??

CHOPPER WITH HECTOR...

SCROLL FURTHER DOWN TO OZZIE DAY POSTS OF LAST WEEK FOR MORE ON CHOPPER...

HERE'S HIS ART IT'S NOT BLOODY BAD IS IT??
FORMER underworld standover man Mark Brandon "Chopper" Read may have long given up a life of shooting, stabbing and torturing. But for better or worse, the man who spent 23 years in prison for violent crime is now making a killing in the art market — and yes, he's in it for the money. In four years as a painter, Read has sold more than 126 works for up to $6500 each. His fourth exhibition opened last night at Michael Boyd Gallery in Collingwood, his old stamping ground as a wayward youth. Read's new reputation was sealed in 2003 at his first exhibition at Fitzroy gallery, Dante's. Fans, the voyeuristic and collectors, looking for good resale value, snapped up all 45 pieces. The State Library of Victoria purchased a Read self-portrait for $1400. Sydney artist Adam Cullen, now a close friend of Read, inspired the former hitman when he sat for Cullen's entry in the 2002 Archibald Prize. "I saw his stuff on the wall, and I said to him, 'how much do you charge for this?' " Read recalls. "He said 'I've just sold two to Elton John for $25,000 each.' I thought to myself , 'how long's this shit been going on?', so I got hold of some acrylic paints and a brush and took it up." He is keen to emphasise that there's no subtext though. "Adam Cullen described it as post-modernist, neo-surrealist rubbish. It looks good up on walls, goes up in price, and fits good into the back of a BMW." Then Read starts talking about Ned Kelly, whose armoured image appears in six of his 21 works. A psychiatrist would have a field day. There's the work Kelly Never Died, where four 'Neds', their bodies painted like Read's many tattoos, stand side by side, wielding machine-guns or with hooks for hands. In The Big Silver Chicken That Ate Ned's Arm, Kelly, wearing a football jumper and with an amputated arm, stands forlornly in an abstract countryside, overshadowed by a silver cartoon bird. When pressed for an analysis, Read sighs, "I think there were so many lies told about Ned Kelly, another lie wouldn't hurt." Several works depict Kelly as a woman, naked with enormous breasts and legs splayed. In fact, the exhibition has a lot of naked women with enormous breasts, but some of them wield machine-guns. Like Read, Kelly was a violent criminal in his youth and later became a kind of national character. They even both spent time in Pentridge Prison, albeit a century apart. Read is sick of the Kelly comparisons but is ambivalent, one minute dismissing Kelly as "an over-rated, overblown bloody poofter", the next saying he's a "great australian national hero".