these are not your mother's wide-eyed waifs
September 8, 2003 4:39 AM   Subscribe

Mark Ryden is to the iconic saucer-eyed urchins of the '60s as Salvador Dali is to Hickory Dickory Dock. His delicate palette, fine details and classical references offer compelling counterpoint to the deliciously disturbing imagery of les tykes terrible in collections such as "Blood: Miniature Paintings of Sorrow & Fear"; "Bunnies and Bees: Paintings Created to Illustrate DIVINE TRUTH in Accordance with the Secret Principles of SCIENCE AND SOUL"; and "The Meat Show: Paintings about Childen, God, and USDA Grade A Beef". Plus, they're kids - with big eyes!
posted by taz (25 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Dali? I'd say Botero.
posted by magullo at 4:53 AM on September 8, 2003

[this is good in a manner of speaking]

Disturbing, hallucinatory, like things seen in a delirium. Did I say 'disturbing' yet? Oh, I did. I'm sorry, my mind keeps wandering.

Where was I? Yes, yes, the paintings. Can we enumerate this guy's obsessions? Meat. Girls with Lolita figures. Meat. Plush toy bunnies with molded plastic faces. Traditional representations of Christ and the Devil. Maybe babies and wheeled vehicles. Meat. Eyes. Hands.

Putting real actors and actresses into his paintings is a little too creepy for me, though.

Anyway, thanks for the link. I think.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 5:16 AM on September 8, 2003

Can we enumerate this guy's obsessions?
Abraham Lincoln and Christina Ricci, too
posted by matteo at 5:26 AM on September 8, 2003

The current issue of Juxtapoz Magazine has a brief interview with Ryden. Little Meat Boy sez, check it out!.
posted by MrBaliHai at 5:29 AM on September 8, 2003


I'd like to see the Meat Show paintings in person, in full size.
Or a print.

Sigh.... why does art have to be expensive?
posted by Blue Stone at 5:36 AM on September 8, 2003

Disturbing is, i believe, the appropriate word.
posted by Sijeka at 5:37 AM on September 8, 2003

Wow. I love it. (I wish he had some prints too.)
posted by JoanArkham at 5:37 AM on September 8, 2003

The detail is remarkable. And yes, this stuff is disturbing. But good. Thanx taz, I think.
posted by ashbury at 6:10 AM on September 8, 2003

I like it too, but I do not wish he had some prints.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 6:19 AM on September 8, 2003

I've always had a fondness for this sort of faux-surrealism even though I quit the chronic years ago.
posted by kozad at 6:37 AM on September 8, 2003

I'm sad to say I do find it disturbing.

Certainly, one of the functions of art is to make us think and this artwork absolutely made me think. I found myself uncomfortable looking at it, even though I generally consider myself to be one who's perspective is quite broad and open.

Primarily I was disturbed by the images of naked people who appeared to have child-like physical traits. Although the images were not directly sexually-suggestive, I was sad because I couldn't determine whether my reaction was based more on a societally-programmed suspicion of any nude depiction of children as having pedophilic roots, or ... well, that's just it. I can't decide what made me uncomfortable.

Hooray for making me question my own feelings.

In any event, I'm sorry, but images of children covered in blood are disturbing without any references to pedophilia. Oh, and I change my mind on the 'sexually-suggestive' label. I remember one painting of a 'child-like' female reclining in a pose very reminiscent of that famous painting of Olympia by Manet.

posted by PigAlien at 6:52 AM on September 8, 2003

Hmm, maybe I'm just reverting back to my old Art School Snob days, but I don't see the figures in the paintings as "children" in the literal sense. I see them more as pop-icons of children.
posted by JoanArkham at 7:00 AM on September 8, 2003

Of course, with the religious iconography, were the children covered in the blood of the lamb? I suppose that would be easy to presume, given that a stigmata-inflicted hand was gushing blood in several paintings.
posted by PigAlien at 7:07 AM on September 8, 2003

This is so going to give me nightmares--but in a good way.
posted by vraxoin at 7:16 AM on September 8, 2003

This is kind of what would happen if Francis Bacon were reincarnated as Jeff Koons.

Ehh, don't mind me, I'm just discovered my apartment has fire ants.
posted by furiousthought at 7:57 AM on September 8, 2003

I had the chance to see Mark Ryden's work and get his autograph at some hipster art gallery here in Seattle. I stood in line feeling a little out of place with all the pink hair, facial piercings, and "uber goth stylings" in the room. Then he showed up, a slight unassuming 40something guy in tennis shoes.

Somehow, that made him even more brilliant in my book.

And his stuff is great up close.
posted by evilcupcakes at 8:04 AM on September 8, 2003

I knew his imagery looked familiar. But like the man said, it's not just weirder than I imagine, it's weirder than I can imagine.
posted by mojohand at 8:41 AM on September 8, 2003

evilcupcakes, I love the photograph of him on the bio page - and your handle sounds like a good name for one of his woks! Mojohand, King is evidently one of Ryden's more famous patrons.
posted by taz at 9:17 AM on September 8, 2003

Are these pictures supposed to make me happy? Because they're not working.
posted by soyjoy at 10:11 AM on September 8, 2003

Very interesting stuff. My pseudohipsterfag self is having fun alternately digging into the symbology and just plain digging on the aesthetic. Thank you sir or madam. :)
posted by kavasa at 10:48 AM on September 8, 2003

Wow, this guy is fantastic. His painting style, the "disturbing in a way i can't quite pinpoint" aspects, the way he fucks with the female form, and the way he skews pop icon imagery remind me a little bit of John Currin, another favorite of mine.

God help me if I ever have enough money to buy art. My house will be too disturbing for company. Like when I was in kindergarten and my cousin wouldn't sleep in my room with me because she was afraid of the giant, blood spitting Gene Simmons poster on my wall.
posted by jennyb at 10:57 AM on September 8, 2003

The sketch of the baby skeleton reading Baudelaire (on the drawings page) is one of the greatest things I have seen in a long time.
posted by scody at 11:42 AM on September 8, 2003

I have always felt that Salvador Dali painted as if he had had the experience of having dropped acid, and could convey it on canvas. This artist gives me the same feeling...this is great art but it creeps me out totally.

Let me explain about the acid part... when under the influence, one's context re icons-such as cartoons-is removed-and one is left with a whole new reality upon the viewing. (Some of you older readers may remember some of the drawings of Mickey Mouse that went weird. Hard to describe if you haven't seen them.) This artist brings out this totally different view of things that are usually thought of as 'cutesy'.
posted by konolia at 12:01 PM on September 8, 2003

ah. I just found quizilla's Which Mark Ryden Painting Are You?. Something tells me we are all going to be "Uncle Black".
posted by taz at 12:12 PM on September 8, 2003

Creepy. Kooky. Spooky. Ooky. ~snap! snap!~
posted by SPrintF at 7:49 PM on September 8, 2003

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