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Andre Petterson explores the contentious symbolism of the suit jacket in his latest body of work, Transition.
The widespread, politically-charged graffiti decorating stately Neoclassical buildings in Buenos Aires is impossible to ignore. It is a visual contradiction which exposes the rift between the conservative elite and radical working class. Aesthetically, the bold colours of spray paint and the gestural, script-like application reshape its planar architectural forms into a highly personal expression. For the artist, the vandalized buildings of the Argentine capital reflect, “a need for a generation of people to be heard by way of a visual vocabulary which speaks out against the values of the establishment.”
In Transition, Petterson utilizes the suit jacket – a Western symbol of masculine authority, formality, and professional prowess – as a vehicle to capture this notion. Physical suit jackets, painted in bold colour with a gestural, Sumi-e technique indicative of the artist’s earlier work, become politicized sites revealing contradictory ideas of success and oppression in contemporary society. If the suit is a metaphor for the establishment, then the artist uses the garment as a canvas to liberate its socio-political identification.
Applying paint to the jacket prior to photographing it adds a new layer of dimension to Petterson’s work, blurring the boundary between photography and painting that has come to be synonymous with his practice.