Poster, 'Mambo Theology┬?, offset print, paper, designed by Reg Mombassa for Mambo Graphics Pty Ltd, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1994
Established in 1984 by Dare Jennings and Andrew Rich, the Mambo label began as a backyard business screenprinting T-shirts for a small niche market in surfwear. The mix of surf culture, art and music influences resonated with Australian youth who loved the notoriety and controversy the designs characteristic of Mambo aroused in conservative middleclass Australia. The designs were vibrant, humorous, irreverent and of questionable taste but had broad appeal with youth both in Australia and overseas. The disintegration of accepted motifs and conventions, the portrayal of anti-realist and anti-rational popular iconography combined with imagery typifying Australian suburbia dominate Mambo designs.
The posters reveal that beneath the humour and amusing parodies, lies incisive insight, sympathy and expression of serious social concern. In parodying society┬?s sacred cows, artwork created for Mambo in visual and linguistic form, challenges existing social mores while simultaneously providing a public forum for talented graphic artists to exhibit their work.
This is an important collection of posters and is significant for the contribution Mambo Graphics has made to Australian popular culture. Artists represented in the collection include Chris O┬?Doherty (alias Reg Mombassa), David McKay, Gerry Wedd, Maria Kozic, Jeff Raglus, Jim Mitchell, Paul McNeil, Richard Allen, Seenu, Rockin Jelly Bean and Marcelle Lunam.
Anne-Marie Van de Ven, Curator 2008
The poster was designed by Reg Mombassa for Mambo Graphics in 1994.
Mambo was established in 1984 by Dare Jennings and Andrew Rich as a backyard business screenprinting T-shirts. Artists are commissioned to produce designs that are duplicated on Mambo products. It became a large commercial clothing and textile manufacturer with an annual turnover of more than $10 million. Mambo products are sold in Japan, America, Europe and New Zealand. As well as furniture and clothes, Mambo designs and graphics are mass produced on surfboards, surfbags, posters, CD covers and in ads.
In 2000 Jennings and co-founder Andrew Rich sold the company to Gazal corporation, a Sydney based clothing manufacturer which had manufactured and distributed Mambo clothes since 1990. This left Jennings and his artists more time to be creative and let others worry about the business and its risks.
Artists represented in this collection include Reg Mombassa, David McKay, Gerry Wedd, Maria Kozic, Jim Mitchell, Paul McNeil, Seenu, Richard Allan, Marcelle Lunam and Jeff Raglus. Their work expresses the obligatory irreverence one has come to expect from Mambo graphic design.
Reg Mombassa, alias artist, writer and musician, Chris O┬?Doherty (b. 1951) began his association with Mambo Graphics in 1987. Reg created a number of Mambo characters that have become iconic symbols of Australian irreverence like his ┬?Australian Jesus┬?. Born in New Zealand, Reg first came to prominence in Australia as a founding member of Australian rock band ┬?Mental As Anything┬?. Referred to as a ┬?modern day Renaissance Man┬? Reg┬?s list of professional credits is impressive. Artwork by Reg is included in the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, The Art Gallery of NSW and the Powerhouse Museum. He has held several successful one-man exhibits and designed the ┬?Heroes┬? segment of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Closing Ceremony and the poster for the 2000 Paralympics Arts Festival as well as the ┬?Loud Shirts┬? (Hawaiian shirts) worn by the Australian Olympic team at the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney.