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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Craving the Bizarre

The Meat Magi, Mark Ryden
Oil on canvas, 1997


I'm not sure what's gotten into me today. I can't blame it on Daylight Savings Time (although in theory and in practice it annoys me) and we've had another layoff today. There's sort of a numbing action, a mind freeze that I haven't been able to shake since I got into the office. I had all of these creative ideas this morning on the train, things that gave me energy, and then I got to my desk, and it's like my brain got sucked out of my head and I don't know how to get it back. Now I just want to take a nap.

I know when I get this way, I find that I seek out the surreal, the bizarre and the off-kilter to reclaim a little balance. I'm not really one for a feel-good movie. Odds are that Brazil or Invasion of the Body Snatchers will make me feel better. Or I'll read one of the most messed up Grimm's Fairy Tales I can find.

I guess when your world feels a bit skewed, there's nothing better than seeing something a little more skewed to put things back to rights again.


I first discovered Mark Ryden's work in a book at Dog Eared Books on Valencia Street. I couldn't tear myself away from the sweet and disturbing images he creates. I can't always put my finger on the message he is presenting, but I can still sense the truth behind the images.

I spent part of my lunch at the SF MOMA bookstore looking at Sweet Wishes.

There was something so wrong about it that it made me laugh.


will March 10, 2009 at 4:05 PM  

Ryden's work is great. A while back there was a show of his stuff here in Seattle. Books don't do his work justice. They are brighter and bigger than imagined.

Low brow or pop surrealism is so right.

d smith kaich jones March 10, 2009 at 4:12 PM  

Well, this helps me to understand my dear friend Lulu a tad better. When things are at their very worst & life is just kicking her, she will head to a bookstore to pick up some "light" reading - like, say, the history of the plague, or some such thing -or rent a movie that I cannot watch unless I am full of Lorazepam. I have given her such grief over this - I now feel a bit guilty, and resolve to keep my mouth shut. She shoulda 'splained to me better.

:) Debi

julochka March 10, 2009 at 4:12 PM  

i don't know ryden, but can recommend that you read dostoevsky's notes from underground if you want to go totally twisted.

and i would dub what you've got "the heathrow effect" because heathrow is sucking all that's happy and good out of the universe and replacing it with despair...it sounds like you've got it. but i do think dostoevsky could help...either that or a G&T.

Yoli March 10, 2009 at 5:33 PM  

Here is a poem from a friend to complete the bizzare feel:

"The hammer of happiness,
is pounding nails of joy
into my eyes."

Weird huh? Also, so Scorpio...LOL. Love the bizzar images.

Red Shoes March 10, 2009 at 5:50 PM  

I would like to direct you to: http://www.pictureisunrelated.com.

I do recommend a g&t to go with it, and possibly a background of Stravinsky?

Char March 10, 2009 at 6:40 PM  

I think those work if you are having surreal moments....I'm trying hard to think what I do then and I think I usually find really bad, old sci-fi for some reason.

Anonymous March 11, 2009 at 2:40 AM  

Yup, there IS something disturbing about that last picture. heheheh. Pans Labyrinth is a nice little film if you want to watch something disturbing.

christina March 11, 2009 at 6:37 AM  

This is new to me. I find this art so cool!

This is a book? I want to know more. Please.

: )

~DokterKenny March 11, 2009 at 6:59 AM  

Wow.. The Meat Magi.. This image just sucks you immediately. The thing that caught my eye was all the hidden symbolism. The all seeing eye with the Cyrillic writing above it. Ying and Yang, the vendor obviously represents death. Why is the writing on the side of the truck in Japanese or Chinese? What is the significance of the 683.r on the side of the truck or for that matter the 33 on the boys shirt. The trucks exhaust looks more like a factory spewing pollution. From a perspective it seems the girl is way smaller than she should be almost as if she is being left behind, and the single mushroom that is almost cartoon like compared to the flowers around it so it stands out.Of course the obvious of the Lincoln puppet with its arms open wide, and why does the running boy have the same open wide arms? I would be curious to know what message Ryden is trying to send.

~DokterKenny March 11, 2009 at 7:06 AM  

Oh yeah and I forgot what's up with the giant over sized bee?

Gabby March 11, 2009 at 3:20 PM  

I like reading Kafka in an empty bathtub by candlelight. Or thumbing through Frida Kahlo prints at 4 am.

You need to cheer up with my old pal Max:


Brook March 11, 2009 at 5:58 PM  

Oh yes. Today i need the total bizarro package.

ArtSparker March 12, 2009 at 9:25 AM  

Gothic Pink. Hellboy 2 I would add to the previous comment about Pan's Labyrinth. Also, just saw Coraline and it is deeply twisted...there are some serious monster mothers in that.