Jane Maxwell – Challenging the Female Imagery in Painting


What do you like about her style?

She uses multiple layers of vintage posters to create collage imagery.  In my work, I have used 1-2 layers of paper collage as well using modern logos.  In both our work, we overlay paint into the images to create multiple levels and dimensions.


I’m CEO… bitch! (1 of 6 panels)

Why are her images so popular?

The beauty of the feminine figure is a constant in our modern Cosmopolitan lifestyle dating back to the early days of fashion ads in the early 1800s.  At this point, women became glamorized sex objects to be pressured to try items to fit into society’s mold for them and enjoy the lifestyle they wanted to achieve. Additionally, it coincided with the birth of cheap mass-produced clothing, which allowed the average Joe or Jane to have more than 1-2 pieces of clothing like in the Middle Ages. Here we see the popular model behind selling Coca-cola to women in the early 1900s fashion magazines.


How have you used Coca-cola advertising in your work?

Yes, I did a painting on the cocaine drug trade and the largest supplier of cocaine in the 1980s — Pablo Escobar.  By blending the multiple images of popular culture of “Scarface” movie and actual events, you get another image of Coca-cola.  As you may know Coca-cola used cocaine in the original recipe (so the “Classic Coke” really isn’t classic).  What you may not know is that Coca-cola still uses coca leaves in its soft drinks, but takes out the addictive ingredient in coca leaves.  Unfortunately, this leads to growing massive coca fields to supply Coca-cola to the public.  Of course, some of those fields are being continually used in the cocaine industry.


Coke. It’s the Real Thing.

What era are the images of Jane painting?

Mostly she is using images from the early 60s into the 70s of this century.  At this point in time, women generally were close to the shape of actual models.  Additionally, we see models coming out of the world war savior look to seductress imagery of this century.  Previous to this century women were not openly glamorized.


Why do women get glamorized in the West, but covered in the Middle East, the most extreme in Saudi Arabia?


Partially, it has to do with the weather ie. sand storms.  If you are in a dessert like the Arabian peninsula, the best protection from sand pelting your skin raw is flowing robes like worn by modern day Saudi women and even men.  Of course, the men get to wear white.

Another factor is that it is listed in the Koran and religious beliefs are held up by religious police.  This is true in Saudi Arabia as in Iran.  The difference is in Iran the fashions of the covering is moderating a bit.


Was there a time when the Middle East was more moderate?

Of course.  In the 600s at the time of the dark ages in Europe, the libraries of Alexandria held the forgotten greek classics by Plato and Socrates.  Additionally at this same time there was extreme religious intolerance in medieval Europe with the rise of the Inquisition in the 1300s to 1800s.

In the Islamic world the 3 religions of Christianity, Judaism and Islam lived peacefully together in Islamic empires.  At that time we see western women wearing similar conservative clothes like modern day Saudi Arabia.


Where can I learn more on this artist?

Her website is www.JaneMaxwell.com .


Do you have a monthly newsletter?

Yes. I send about every 4-6 weeks at http://shawnshawn.co/Site/Contact



Interview on “Coke. It’s the Real Thing” painting


Was there any particular event that drove the idea?


Yes, I was reading about Whitney Houston and her tragic death from cocaine overdose and passing out in a hotel bath. I found that story bizarrely attractive, but the public really loves Whitney for a lot of the positive things she did like take a stand against South Africa apartheid and supporting Mandela when he was in prison. It takes balls to take an unpopular view once you have made it as a major star. The other thing I realized as I researched the topic is that there are stars and 1000s of nameless people that die each year, so the attraction of covering the large crime bosses and pop culture around it became the calling in the painting.


Why did you do base your painting on Scarface?

Scarface was one of my favorite movies as it captures an immigrant’s dream to make it big in a new country and scaling up the drug latter only to fall completely. It also captures well this pop culture fascination with drugs.


What do you think about gun control?

Interesting question. I know as soon as I finished the painting an artist asked me, “is this about Sandy Hook shooting and gun control?” In a way it is as we are living in that moment of considering banning automatic weapons, but really its a larger question of what are we doing about illegal drugs and why are they illegal.

Are you suggesting that we make hard drugs legal?

Well, if you look to the 1800s to early 1900s, we did have legal hard drugs. You could stroll down to your local opium den to have a puff and pass out for hours. You could mail order your needles and drugs from Sears. Additionally, you could by a coke with cocaine in the recipe. Hence the reference in the painting.

Nowadays, if you look to Holland, they have had success in having coffee shops for soft drugs like hash or marijuana and drug usage has fallen. This seems like a safer route to tax and regulate these drugs while prosecuting crime resulting from users rather than having massive ongoing drug wars that come from its illegal status and still users robbing others to buy drugs.

If you look at Mexico, there have been 60,000 people killed in 5 years… that is truly a sad event, which had nothing to do with drug overdose.


Who is the figure in the background repeated?

Pablo Escobar is the figure repeated in the background. He is the real version of Scarface. He rose as a local thug in his teens to controlling most of the cocaine trade out of Columbia by his late 20s. By his 30s he has amassed $3 billion in wealth and was listed on Forb’s 227 richest men in the world. By 43, he had made enemies with the whole of Columbia and was shot down by the police. He had had 1000s assassinated, 10 judges killed, the Supreme Court blown up with tanks, an airliner blown up midair and half a government building blown up. The crazy thing was he was the best philanthropist in the country giving out toys, food, building schools and sports stadium to have the poor as his look-outs that today they still celebrate his birthday in parades. This is despite having killed 1000s of people mostly in government.

Is there a connection from movies to real violence?

Hard to say. I definitely see that celebrities are all shot in movies shooting others casually like they’re getting coffee. For example in Rambo III there are 132 people killed by Rambo. In Terminator, 34 people die. In Halloween III, there are 23 deaths. In Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, there are 11 deaths. So yes, Hollywood loves to kill people without a thought.


There is a chicken and egg problem. Are people drawn to these movies because of the death count or are the movies pushing the limits of death impacting people to kill others. I still say the responsibility is with the viewer not to go kill people based on a film. For sane people, I think they can clearly differentiate this difference. The mentally instable may be influenced by these types of movies.

Maybe the solution is to give an X rating on 3+ murders in a film and be less worried about naked breasts in films as well.

Why did you dramatically change your style?

I was ready to try something new in my work. I have plenty of abstracts already, so I was ready to try something new. I was really inspired also from watching the development of Mr. Brainwash to a major artist after only 6 months (seemingly). He obviously learned a lot filming and bombing with various graffiti artists as well.



Is this work available?

No, it is in a private collection.


Do you have a monthly newsletter?

Yes. I send about every 4-6 weeks at http://shawnshawn.co/Site/Contact