Mark Ryden in Tokyo





The incredible Mark Ryden opened a new show of paintings last week in Tokyo. Kirsten Anderson — proprietor of Seattle's Roq La Rue Gallery, author of Pop Surrealism: The Rise of Underground Art, and editor-at-large of Hi-Fructose Magazine — made the trip over and kindly shares this report and photos:


Last week, a gaggle of cohorts and I descended on Tokyo to see the Mark Ryden "Snow Yak" exhibition at Tokyo's prestigious Tomio Koyama Gallery, Ryden's first show since 2007's "Tree Show" exhibit in LA. We were treated to a room full of delicate drawings and sketches, with the cavernous main room set aside for the paintings. The new show signaled a slight departure in Ryden's oeuvre, with a marked change in palette, which consisted mainly of different tones of white, grays and blues, with occasional rosy tones thrown in. Closer inspection also revealed a rougher painting technique than his usual creamy and seamlessly blended technique, with some paintings even layered with globular paint applied by spatula. Backgrounds were kept minimal and the frames were a simple clean white as opposed to Ryden's usual hyper-crafted, surreally ornate frames of the past. Staying consistent however was Ryden's trademark imagery that often uses pop iconography for archetypal themes including delicate girls (tellingly named "Sophia" and posed in Madonna-esque poses), bees, disembodied Lincoln heads, and supposed-to-be-really-cute-but-actually-highly-disturbing toy animals, including the ridiculously-expressioned but immaculately-painted title piece from the show, "Snow Yak". Other highlights included "Sophia's Bubbles" featuring the title's goddess figure with strategically-placed bubbles representing the solar system. The show favorite seemed to be "Heaven" featuring a platinum blonde waif and her companion, the benevolent yet mighty Snow Yak.

Mark Ryden's site