Mark Ryden has a show of exquisite new paintings and drawings at the Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York City. The exhibition, titled "The Gay 90s Old Tyme Art Show" runs until June 5, and selected works are also viewable online. Above, "The Piano Player" (#94), oil on canvas; below, "Incarnation" (#100), oil on panel. From the gallery:
In his hauntingly beautiful and masterfully executed oil paintings, Ryden creates his own contemporary mythologies whose archetypes include fairy tale creatures, historical figures, and pop cultural icons. Seamlessly juxtaposing macabre motifs like meat grinders and disembodied presidents with eye-pleasing ingénues and seductive landscapes, the artist produces a vision of society in which menace and comfort are inseparably interwoven. These labor-intensive canvasses deftly rework centuries of art history, combining the grandeur of Spanish and Italian religious painting with the decorative richness of Old Master compositions and the lush textures of French Neo-Classicism.
The central theme of The Gay 90s: Old Tyme Art Show references the idealism of the 1890s while addressing the role of kitsch and nostalgia in our current culture. "In the modern era, sentimentality and beauty have been disdained in the art world," he explains. "This new work is explores the line between attraction and repulsion to kitsch, and between beauty and banality." Through their visual richness and symbolic complexity, Ryden's infinitely suggestive dreamscapes invite us to enter their world and to indulge our sense of wonder.