Tony Garifalakis's practice over the past two decades has constituted an examination of social relations and the semiotics of power. His work particularly engages the ways in which the meaning of signs, symbols and images might be ascribed, conveyed or transformed through culture, and how conventional notions of hierarchy and status might be undermined or subverted. Garifalakis interrogates social, political, artistic and religious systems of belief—as well as the institutions that uphold them—through a range of strategies that include amplification of the signifiers utilised by those institutions themselves; subversive juxtaposition of image and text; and the deployment of dark, incongruous humour. Previously, Garifalakis has utilised the imagery from various of his own subcultural interests to consider the ways in which such iconography infiltrates popular culture.
Most recently these concerns have manifest in works such as Affirmations, a body of work that explores belief systems underpinning both New Age movements and gun culture groups; Anti-Christs, an ongoing project examining various conspiracy theories, specifically the attempts made to identify and name the Anti-Christ; and Mob Rule, in which portraits of powerful figures such as heads of state, royalty and military leaders are obscured with black paint. These works are reflective of the artist's broader concerns around the signification of authority and the legitimacy of those who wield it. They are also both humorous and politically charged—a deft combination that continues to underscore Gariflalakis's work to powerful effect.
Garifalakis’s work has always fluctuated between the dark and the whimsical, the popular and the profound… In some ways, he is like a distanced witness, reporting on the world around him, feverishly aware of the strange times in which we live. The darkness in his work simply brings light upon the confusing and confused multiverse of our world.
Ashley Crawford, Vault magazine, November 2014.