Mark Ryden’s “The Gay 90:s West” – a new exhibition at Kohn Gallery
Hundreds if not thousands of Angelenos, including myself, waited in line for an hour and a half to have pop art painter Mark Ryden sign his books at the new location and grand opening of the Kohn Gallery on Highland Avenue in Hollywood. This exhibition is a continuation of his show “The Gay 90’s: Old Tyme Art Show” that took place in 2010 at the Kasmin Gallery, New York. The Mark Ryden exhibit inaugurates the new 12,000-foot space and runs from May 3 – June 28, 2014.
I took special notice of Mark Ryden’s art four years ago at Bergamot Station Arts Center. His art kept me up all night.
Mark blends techniques reminiscent of the old masters along with pop culture themes that gives his art a cryptic, cute yet disturbing archetype of childhood innocence blended with the mysterious recesses of the soul. Just like Marilyn Monroe and Michael Jackson, Mark has a passion for Abe Lincoln. I think of him as the Alfred Hitchcock of surrealism.
Mark has a unique way of not only painting but the way he signs his books. I brought along my Taschen (one of my favorite publishers) April 15, 2013 – 352 page edition of of Pinxit. At 7.7 pounds, it is a heavy beauty.
Look at the stamp he uses on each autograph.
I also brought along my Mark Ryden December 1, 2011, 110 page, gold trim pages with soft faux leather blood color cover edition of “Blood: Paintings of Sorrow and Fear.” It’s larger than the previous edition and contains 16 additional pages. Mark provides his readers an explanation and apology for his outwardly morbid theme confessing it reflected his innermost feelings during a particularly vulnerable depressing period in his life. He was exploring feelings of grief, trauma and loss.
Mark purposely created the paintings in Blood small because he wanted to make quiet things about pain. They seem to have an underlying purpose and have been described as a postmodern version of memento mori , a Latin phrase that means “remember you must die”. In other words, start living your life by whatever means of inspiration you can find. Memento mori is the artistic or symbolic reminder of the inevitability of death.
Mark, like most artists, understands that by revisiting the roots of dysfunction and suffering, we abandon the memories that create our emotional barriers. Federico Fellini said there is only the infinite passion of life and Mark Ryden truly embraces his infinite passions in his art.
Last but really not least, Mark handed me a special present. Not only a genuine, warm smile but also a pin called Daisy along with a Limited Edition Dum Dum. Mark likes the same lollipops as Michael Jackson did!