Painting the humorous kitschgrotesque of the dressed-up TER[mite moun]DS in tropical Australia

  • Ian William Hance

    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - CDU


    The kitsch is evidenced in the dressed-up termite mounds that occur along the highways of Australia’s tropical north as a uniquely humorous yet disarming experience for those who travel the northern highways of Australia. This practice-led research in painting and installations is inspired by this experience and addressed several questions concerning the concepts of humour as they pertain to the psyche of the population of this tropical north. Through analysis of the theories of the grotesque by theorists – notably Frances Connelly, Justin Edwards and Rune Graulund – I arrived at the conclusion that a grotesque humour underlies these mounds. Through analysis of the theories of kitsch in the writings of Susan Sontag and Tomas Kulka and others, I arrived at the further conclusion that this humour is associated with the kitsch. My invented term Kitschgrotesque encompasses the ambiguities and fluidities of kitsch and grotesque. Further, in my practice and exegesis, kitschgrotesque explores a unique humour in the tropical north that has relationships to the grotesque uncanny and abject This exegesis further demonstrates that there is a strong element of kitschgrotesque in the work of other Australian artists, particularly of the Northern Territory.

    In my work the usage of kitsch imagery is combined with a dark humour, which attempts to arrive at a more complex and intense view, in contradiction to the transparency and negative values normally associated with kitsch. To do so has involved a playfulness within the materiality of paint and analyses of grotesque ambiguities applied to colour and imagery to interpret kitschgrotesque humour pictorially.

    My original response to these public art pieces was an appropriation of the imagery and the subsequent installation of the paintings in five various settings explored notions of the kitschgrotesque in situ.
    Date of AwardNov 2018
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorBirut Zemits (Supervisor), Gemma Blackwood (Supervisor) & Nicolas Bullot (Supervisor)

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