I actually walked into this part of the Paul Kasmin Gallery looking for something else and came across the wonder that is Mark Ryden's artwork. It all seemed so familiar and so new at the same time, beautiful, dark drawings and paintings of doll-like children and Alice in Wonderland type-figures with a gothic twist. He paints his figures with large kewpie eyes that are both innocent and full of depth and knowledge at the same time. When surrounded by all of the different paintings on the walls you can feel all of the sad, angry, lonely and innocent faces staring out at you, asking you to look more deeply and think about what you see. This is what I felt in any case, and I'm now officially obsessed with this artist. I would like his prints to cover my walls at home, especially the ones that I have posted in this blog post.
I don't really know how to categorise Mark Ryden's work (in any case I really detest categorising anything as it is all based on personal judgement in the end), so I will just take a quotation from the Mark Ryden website biography which actually voices my own personal thoughts:
"Blending themes of pop culture with techniques reminiscent of the old masters, Mark Ryden has created a singular style that blurs the traditional boundaries between high and low art. His work first garnered attention in the 1990s when he ushered in a new genre of painting, "Pop Surrealism", dragging a host of followers in his wake. Ryden has trumped the initial surrealist strategies by choosing subject matter loaded with cultural connotation." (See the full biography HERE).
I am not going to even pretend to be an art critic. I fall in love with a piece of art very fast because it touches me, punches me in the stomach, makes me think, makes me cry and inspires me to create something that provides the same emotions in others. Art can be music, paintings, drawings, words, photography, dance... Anything that provides some form of beauty or provokes an intense reaction. In the case of Mark Ryden's work I fell in love immediately. The mix of innocence and irony, beauty and the grotesque is an amalgam of paradoxes that I always fall for, and he uses it to perfection. Now if anyone wants to buy me a large print of Rose from the Blood collection I would be overjoyed.
Mark Ryden: Editions is currently showing at the newly launched Paul Kasmin Shop until January 14th, 2012.
Mark Ryden Official Website