Roman Longginou uses charcoal in a grisaille like style to create drawings that investigate idealised notions of masculinity. Placing focus on the pictorial, the artist appropriates visual imagery found in journals, films, social media and advertisements that are associated with virility throughout popular culture, entering a dialogue concerned with symbols of desire and the porous ways they’re sought out and achieved. Masculinity is a layered subject, riddled with tensions between strength and fragility. Longginou’s practice navigates this polarity by exploring the underlying pressures of virility through its idolisation and the illusion of its ideal image. Using icons of masculinity that signify prestige and power, Longginou's works form a dialogue that explores how materialist desires might inform male identity and how such influences may impact ones perception of self.


We caught up with Roman to ask him a few questions and discuss his current inspirations, find out what he's been working on in the studio, what he's reading, and what's next for him.


What's currently inspiring you?

RL: It's been really inspiring to contextualise the symbolism, composition, and stylistic choices (such as colour/lack thereof) of my practise, and fleshing that out has given me a lot of traction. I've been reading and researching a lot, delving further into how our pictorial landscape can shape our understanding of the world. 


On the topic of books, what are you currently reading?

RL: Monochrome: Painting in Black and White by Leila Packer and Jennifer Sliwka, Either/Or by Søren Kierkegaard, and Understanding a Photograph by John Berger


What are you currently working on?

RL: I've just finished a series of work around ancient coins, that initially functioned as a warm up exercise for me before I start to crack into more difficult pieces. I love to draw them, they're really fun. Conceptually, they tie into my broader interest in the symbolism and imagery around masculinity, materialism, and idolism. I find the correlation between the subject of the coins - heroes, gods, mythological creatures - and their value - culturally and monetarily - fascinating. The juxtaposition between the valour of the subject and the worn-down nature of the coins is representative of old aspirational, abstract ideals that won't last. In the work Driving Motivations II (Dream Car Blueprint), I combined ancient coins, with a broken Greco Roman bust, and overlaid it with a blueprint of a car. All of these images work to explore the driving motivations of an individual, and the contradictory nature of these materialist desires.


What's next for you?

RL: Moving forward, I'm going to be starting on a new series for my Markian solo show, which will be focussed on metals. Aspirations of status and wealth can feel very materialistic, and offer a very shallow blueprint for how you should live your life. It's often about optics and perception. For me, the car represents a dichotomy between fragility and protection. We put a lot of trust and faith into these material objects, both literally and symbolically, even though they possess inherent danger and frailty. 


View Roman's work online and in our showroom at 730 Brunswick street, New Farm. 



July 08, 2021 — Anyssa Chorvat