There are two artists' work that I dream about one day having in my personal collection. Both are way out of my price range and will be forever, but I can dream. The first would be a small bronze by Henry Moore, one of his sculptures that can fit in the palm of your hand, preferable one of a mother with child. The second is anything by Mark Ryden. As far as I'm concerned Mr. Ryden is one of the greatest living painters.
Mark Ryden's work disturbs me, impresses me and gets me thinking more than any other living artist. There are some artist that just do it for you; you look at their work and feel complete, it's a feeling you can not even explain in words. His work is irreverent and subversive but done with a skill level that raises Mr. Ryden's punk rock sensibilities into fine art worthy of any museum wall.
Mark Ryden is the father of the 'Lowbrow" art movement, although he does not like the term. His paintings are a refection of the tension that exists right under the surface in our American lives. Mr. Ryden's paintings are filled with allegory that is so familiar to us. The great corporate commercialization showing us a white-washed unattainable picture of American life that hides the messy cost of our lifestyle; from the food polished, packaged and presented to us in supermarkets that show no signs of its origin to the everyday products like sneakers that are marketed to fill our heads with pictures of famous sports stars instead of the children in sweat shops making them for us. We are removed from the cost of our existence. We are told to "move along, nothing to see here." Mr Ryden makes us look and reminds us of the truth.
Mark Ryden is a master painter. He uses old school brush and layering techniques that give his paintings a permanent feel. They look like paintings that Michelangelo could have done, if Michelangelo grew up watching TV in the 60's and 70's and ate steaks colored red with dye and wrapped in clear cellophane. I can not overstate the awesomeness of Mark Ryden's artistic skills. You have to see his work live to get a proper understanding of how good he is. He is a true master painter for our time and has spawned an entire art movement that challenges the whole establishment. GL
I loved the description by Andrew Engelson of the Seattle Weekly who wrote back in 2004;
OK, so the California painter—who is a masterful craftsman—is a touch morbid. But there's a fine line between morbid and observant. Ryden, like William Burroughs, strips the lunch on our forks naked, so we're constantly reminded of the violence behind the surface of our placid little lives. A meticulous painter of the old school (making him a perfect fit for the Frye), Ryden is a postmodern icon maker. His canvases are stocked with a strange and inscrutable array of personal symbols that open a door to the secret life. Again and again, you run into Lincoln, bees, freaky stuffed animals, Jesus statues, numerology, quotes from the world's religious traditions, bodily fluids, and tons of wide-eyed Keane-esque children. As anyone who's spent more than 10 minutes with kids knows, they aren't innocent angels, but instead voracious observers of all that adults try to hide. Just try walking past a road-killed frog on the sidewalk in the company of a 3-year-old. Ryden has that same childlike fascination with the icky. We're just meat, Ryden's canvases insist, but meat that can also read philosophy. In paintings such as Puella Anima Aureo (above) there's a palpable sense of how weird it is to reside in a body.