In Smoke and Mirrors, a solo exhibition of watercolour works by Melbourne-based artist Fiona McMonagle, the artist continues her ongoing exploration of female identity and celebrity culture. Exploiting the translucent qualities of watercolour as a medium, McMonagle reveals a melancholy and a nostalgia in her large-scale portraits of solitary female figures such as Virginia Woolf, Madonna and Frida Kahlo. McMonagle’s portraits depict the vulnerability and strength of her subjects, and examine the portrayal of women in popular culture.
McMonagle says, ‘I have always had a fascination with popular culture and what kind of influence it has. When we are young, popular culture is what we mostly consume, and I am interested in how it affects us as people’.
Since graduating from the Victorian College of the Arts with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Painting), McMonagle has exhibited extensively throughout Australia, both in highly successful solo exhibitions as well as curated group shows. Classy, a survey exhibition of her works from the past decade, was held at Bayside Gallery in 2020.