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. He has trumped the initial surrealist strategies by choosing subject matter loaded with cultural connotation.
Ryden's vocabulary ranges from cryptic to cute, treading a fine line between nostalgic cliché and disturbing archetype. Seduced by his infinitely detailed and meticulously glazed surfaces, the viewer is confronted with the juxtaposition of the childhood innocence and the mysterious recesses of the soul. A subtle disquiet inhabits his paintings; the work is achingly beautiful as it hints at darker psychic stuff beneath the surface of cultural kitsch. In Ryden's world cherubic girls rub elbows with strange and mysterious figures. Ornately carved frames lend the paintings a baroque exuberance that adds gravity to their enigmatic themes. Complex in its arcane and idiosyncratic subject matter, Ryden's work can leave no viewer unmoved.
Pinxit, whose title refers to the Latin term meaning "painted by," is organized by the themes of Ryden's major exhibitionsThe Meat Show, Bunnies & Bees, The Tree Show, and so onand includes collected essays by Yoshitomo Nara, Carlo McCormick and a new essay by culture critic Kristine McKenna. Ryden's paintings and drawings are reproduced using the finest technique available, and over a dozen of the paintings are foldouts that open to a staggering 150 cm (59 inches) across.
"Ryden's work is often categorized as a pop surrealist for using kitsch images with heavy cultural connotations. I love it because while it initially appears all whimsical and innocent cuteness, something darker and disturbing runs riot just beneath the surface." theladylovesbooks. com, Dublin
"Mark Ryden is a master of the style." The New York Times
Pinxit by Mark Ryden at Coggles. com
Hardcover, clamshell box - 38 x 50cms 366 pages