I had to do a fast dash back to the UK recently, however, it did mean I had a night in Málaga on the way and I had time to visit the CAC art gallery. The main exhibition on there featured the ‘God Father of pop surrealism’,and ‘lowbrow art’, Mark Ryden.
All images below taken with my phone in the gallery.
His name was not familiar to me, however his Michael Jackson album cover was very familiar and it was an amazing surprise to see it there in its full size and glorious colours.
My first impression and notes: At first glance Ryden’s works seems almost whimsical; the figures are beautiful but look again and they are not really real, neither children nor women and some have a slightly bruised, ill look to them. There is so much to take in in each painting; so much imagery. You can spend a long time getting lost in each one. There is often a feeling of evil/death and almost always some meat. This didn’t sit well with me being vegan, however I take it he is making a statement about why is meat considered differently from our own flesh…? There is catholic and masonic iconography, President Lincoln pops up a lot, old toys, anatomical models, stuffed animals, skulls and skeletons. I felt in awe of the skill and detail in the paintings, but also they left me feeling uneasy, disturbed somehow.
‘Snow White’, oil on canvas, 1997
‘Chroma Structure 113’ , 2015, oil on canvas
‘Aurora’, 2015, 9 feet high.
In various interviews I have been reading, it seem that Ryden spends a very long time on his paintings, and this of course shows through in the almost airbrushed look and incredible detail.
‘I paint the same way on an eight-foot canvas as I do on a five-inch miniature. I still use very tiny brushes and noodle every square inch. It took me nearly a year to paint The Parlor.’source: http://www.kohngallery.com/news/2014/5/2/mark-ryden-interview
Whilst I find his work interesting, and I enjoyed finding out more about him, I have been wondering what I can take from this to inform my own work? I am not sure that this style of art is a path that I would care to venture down BUT yes, break the rules, make up your own mysterious symbolism, put in things that interest you , paint what is in your mind and not reality…yes, this I can use.