JUMBOZAP, X-ray man-machine pointing a ray-gun at the amphibians Enlarge 1 /1



X-ray man-machine pointing a ray-gun at the amphibians 2010 Place made: Australia
Materials & Technique: drawings, posters, drawing in brush and synthetic polymer paint Support: thick smooth white wove bond paper
Edition State: Published state
Impression: undesignated impression as issued
Edition: edition unknown

Dimensions: image 247.0 h x 586.0 w cm sheet 247.0 h x 586.0 w cm
Acknowledgement: Acquired with the support of Calypso Mary Efkarpidis, 2010
Accession No: NGA 2010.547
Image rights: © Jumbo
Image rights: © Zap
  • Purchased by the National Gallery of Australia, from the artists, 2010.

The Sydney-based scoundrels getting up all over town are the flamboyant street art duo Jumbo and Zap. While the real identities of these two artists remain closely guarded, the pair have attained a cult following that has launched them into the spotlight as two of Australia's most progressive street artists.

Jumbo has been working on the street in Australia and the United Kingdom since 2004. The ligne claire (clear line) illustration technique, developed in the 1940s by Belgian artist Hergé (creator of The Adventures of Tintin), and the German comic magazine Strapazin, which was first published in 1984, have both been central to Jumbo’s artistic development. Through years of experimentation, his passion for 'lots of detail and plenty of good patterns' and his panache with the technique of collage have developed into a distinctive style. His street posters are an eye-popping collision of decorative elements that provide the concrete city with an electric visual buzz.

Zap chose his pseudonym as a reference to the 1970s comic-book speech-bubble text of the ‘ZAP’, ‘POW’ and ‘BAAAM’ variety. His works have been appearing in inner-city Sydney since 1986, and he is a key figure in the development of Australian street art. Zap has successfully navigated the subcultural and aesthetic divide between the coded text-based forms of graffiti and the image-based, mass-communication impetus of street art.

The content of the billboard-sized poster X-ray man-machine pointing a ray-gun at the amphibians 2010 is as intense as the title of the work itself. In what can be described as a visual mash-up, the image is an epic narrative in which Zap’s science-fiction monsters chase Jumbo’s comic-book subhumans across a backdrop that is alive with patterns, decorative elements and word fragments, all pulsating under the deliberate clash of neon against an otherwise 1980s colour palette. This head-on collision of style, colour, word and image has been termed a ‘megamix’ by the artists, who deliberately set out to throw various elements together in their chaotic collaborative works.

The term 'megamix' is recognised within the contemporary musical scene as a remixed track containing multiple songs in rapid succession; similarly, 'mash-up' was originally coined by the music industry to describe the appropriation and overlaying of two or more songs when composing a new track. Jumbo and Zap have applied to their art practice the techniques of sampling, appropriation, repetition, re-mixing and overlaying that lie at the core of contemporary popular music. Together, they are creating megamix posters that vibrate with a unique beat.

Through the very generous support of Nectar, Johnathan and Calypso Efkarpidis, the National Gallery of Australia has been able to acquire X-ray man-machine pointing a ray-gun at the amphibians for the national art collection.

Jaklyn Babington
Assistant Curator, International Prints, Drawings and Illustrated Books, and curator of Space invaders
in artonview, issue 63, spring 2010

in artonview, issue 63, spring 2010