The atmosphere is electric (detail)

Rob McHaffie2014

Ian Potter Museum of Art

Ian Potter Museum of Art
Parkville VIC, Australia

In the four panel work, The atmosphere is electric (2014), we are presented with a view of all the key stakeholders of a match: two players, the hard-working ball boy and the vocal and passionate crowd. It draws attention to the media branding of the players, embraced and amplified by the fans: Azerenka the cold, spoilt and unloved cheat, and Sharapova the charming, beautiful and universally-liked champion. The works are also a deliberation on the stereotyping and objectification of women in sport. Neither work shows the players in action, but rather reference images captured and shown continuously by the media when reporting on the tournament. The players' dexterity, athleticism, skill and competitiveness is downplayed for the fetishisation of their temporality, vulnerability and perceived hysteria, characteristics common to all, but only ever applied to women in a sporting context. McHaffie draws on his immediate environment and images from his travels and the media for his inspiration. He also references the art historical canon, particularly artists such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, evident in his style and technique. However, he is no mere copyist. Rather, his work is considered, personal and insightful; aiming to capture and celebrate his wonderment at the world in which he lives in all its shades and complexity.

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  • Title: The atmosphere is electric (detail)
  • Creator: Rob McHaffie
  • Date Created: 2014
  • Physical Dimensions: 4 components: 85 x 170 cm
  • Rights: Courtesy the artist, Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney; and Brett McDowell Gallery, New Zealand
  • Medium: oil on linen