Subverting symbols of perfectionism and aspiration: London-based Jess Cochrane’s powerful new body of work

Mixed-Signals-Jess-Cochrane-photo-by-Meara-Kallista-MorseA dynamic new solo exhibition from Canberra-born artist, Jess Cochrane, whose star is fast on the rise in the international scene, Mixed Signals opens at Canberra’s aMBUSH Gallery on 10 February 2022.

Showcasing over a dozen multidisciplinary pieces, which Cochrane created in Canberra during a recent visit from her home base in London. It’s a thought-provoking examination of the perceptions of beauty, and the polarising and often binary ways we view people, especially with regard to sexuality.

Cochrane’s digital photography – which she styles in an editorial manner then paints over – is known for its elements of subversion as she explores themes around desire and semiotics (the study of signs and symbols as elements of communicative behaviour).

Produced and presented by aMBUSH Gallery, and co-curated with Cochrane, Mixed Signals is a lively assortment of stylised photographic portraits embellished with rough, gestural mark-making using acrylic paint, to make the viewer question the intent of the original image and what truly lies beneath the surface.

“All of my work questions what we’ve been conditioned to think of as beautiful and grotesque, especially in the context of femininity,” says Cochrane. “That leads into an interrogation of our culture and, historically, what makes something beautiful, and what makes something grotesque. The easy way to describe my art is anti-Photoshop.”

By including recognisable elements and iconography that reference popular culture and identity, Cochrane reveals the reflective creative spirit that pervades her work. The individual works have hidden meanings, in both the way the subjects are posed and the objects placed within the images.

They are elements that speak multitudes for an audience willing to be engaged by the profound nature of Cochrane’s art, and open to listening to the quiet but powerful interior lives of her subjects.

Jess Cochrane is an Australian contemporary visual artist living in London. Cochrane’s work questions the relationship between society, consumerism and pop culture. Her focus is on feminine beauty, illustrated through the application of paint over photographic images.

Cochrane reflects upon insecurity and perfectionism in the modern age. Connecting the history of art, design and advertising, she plays on the idea of pop culture and its roots that are planted in both displaying and disguising parts of ourselves. 

Jess Cochrane: Mixed Signals
aMBUSH Gallery – Kambri Cultural Centre, Australian National University, Acton (Canberra)
Exhibition: 11 February – 20 March 2022 (opening night: 10 February)
Free entry

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Jess Cochrane – photo by Meara Kallista Morse