|Mark Ryden, The Piano Player (#94), Oil on canvas, 20" x 30"|
The contemporary style of Pop Surrealism is mostly in painting, and the subject matter commonly has a theme involving children (mostly young girls), strange creatures and a mood of dark humor or sadness. Mark Ryden seems to be a leader in this art movement, or at least the most popular Pop Surrealist artist. Art critic Ken Johnson says of Mark Ryden's work, "such zany pictures hint at what creepy psychic stuff might pullulate beneath the sentimental, nostalgic, and naive surface of modern kitsch." I asked myself what makes these Lowbrow paintings kitsch and I find that the meticulously painted images themselves are not kitsch, but the content draws from "low culture." Art critic Manami Okazaki writes:
Ryden is still squarely at the forefront of the Lowbrow genre, a term that loosely refers to the Surrealist art movement that draws from accessible pop culture sources such as comics and rock'n'roll, and "low culture" such as tattooing and TV. However, Ryden is among a group of artists who are able to straddle both sides of fence when it comes to "fine art" versus Lowbrow.Each Pop Surrealist artist has their own recurring themes in their paintings. While Ryden uses repeat images of little big-headed waifs, Abraham Lincoln, religious iconography and blood, Marion Peck (and interestingly, Ryden's wife) has a similar style but with slightly different themes.
|Marion Peck, Fuck You, Oil on canvas, 32" x 26"|
|Camille Rose Garcia, Cavern Swan Escape|
Using narrative and fairytale structures, Camille Rose Garcia's latest work, Subterranean Death Clash, explores a futuristic scenario in which an overpopulated, overdeveloped world is forced to move underground. The Royal Disorder, led by General Disorder and his army of poison bottles and castles, slash and burn their way through many different underworlds until they dig their way into the final cavern, the Land of the Dead. There they battle cave swans and death armies in a final Subterranean Death Clash.Do all of these young, sad girls and children in a scary unpredictable environment symbolize an innocence lost? Or is it a visual escape from a mundane world that we all live in? After viewing Pop Surrealism, I am always left a little entertained, a little concerned and highly confused.