"Pop Surrealism" Done Right: The Art of Mark Bodnar


I must admit that I'm not usually a fan of "pop surrealism". Context and expression in art is much more important to me than pop references and obsessive technique. It distresses me to see images jammed with unrelated figures vomited onto the canvas with no concern for overall composition. Perhaps I'm too picky, but day-glo color combinations of pink and purple and orange don't qualify to me as "harmony" and generic pretty girls in space helmets, Japanese movie monsters and tikis aren't a fit substitute for real subject matter.

But I really love the paintings of Mark Bodnar.

Bodnar's work springs forth from the long tradition of cartooning, but he succeeds in making it feel contemporary, rather than treating it as a static object of fetish. His paintings exhibit all of the clarity and directness of the great illustrators of the past and his technique is marked by simplicity, contrast and balance. But his greatest strength lies in the meaning behind the images. Instead of creating mish-mash assemblages of non-sequitur designed to give the illusion of meaning, Bodnar's work feels more like illustrations to stories that have yet to be written. Creating windows into wonderful worlds is magic of the first order. Mark Bodnar is a master of that particular brand of alchemy.