The Two Faces of January
Bonjour Monsieur Courbet
Inkjet on watercolour paper
90 x 67.5 centimeters

Gustave Courbet's 1854 painting, Bonjour Monsieur Courbet, depicts the painter meeting his patron Alfred Bruyas and his servant Calas while travelling to Montpellier. I decided to recontextualise this painting not as a comment on the original work but as an observation of economic realities determining artists' circumstances.

It's the narrative of the gentrification of neighbourhoods once deemed unattractive but affordable to creative people. The neighbourhood in this recreation could be faintly identifiable as a middle ring suburb in Melbourne after artists have been priced out of the fashionable older inner city. It's a generic street with a Californian bungalow beside an unattractive brick newcomer, the Courbet stand-in is dressed in skinny jeans, a floral patterned body shirt and he fashionably wears his shoes without socks. His patron wears a flat cap, a trippy camouflage T-shirt and Birkenstock sandals and he is accompanied by a young Asian guy wearing a fedora hat and who is possibly his boyfriend.

It's a hipster vision of decade ago because the rumours I heard is that some of this demographic have given up on the city and have chosen to relocate to affordable country towns.

Bonjour Monsieur Courbet, Gustave Courbet : Wikimedia