Surrealist royalty Mark Ryden paints nostalgia of the non-existent. His work is on the fictitious memories attached to items of forty / fifty years ago, by those too young to remember. I understand that Ryden’s Art is not for everyone and I hope that I explain myself sufficiently so as to deflect hate-mail.
His cartoonish paintings create a mythical memory of our past, “of kinder and more innocent times.” This bubble-gum imaginary contrasts with the vulgarity of the details; essentially the use of meat, skinless on a functioning body, being ground-up and served by President Lincoln, worn as a dress or used as an accompaniment in dancing; all are controversial to say the least.
It is the shock and controversy which attracts me to Ryden’s work.
Similarities have been drawn between Lady Gaga’s ‘Meat Dress’ and Ryden’s painting ‘Incarnation’. If you recall, there was a significant uproar over Gaga’s attire at the 2010 MTV music awards. Whether it was a stunt or an homage to Ryden’s work, it created dialogue on the grotesqueness of wearing animal flesh as fashion. If the audience is uncomfortable looking at it or having it near their skin, why on earth would they want to put it in their mouth? Would the same out-cry have occurred if she were wearing a selection of salad greens? I doubt it. And although I would’ve preferred to see the greens, I liked the audience cringing and I hope it put them off eating steak.