Mark Ryden (Medford, Oregon 1963)
Mark Ryden is perhaps the most outstanding and well-known painter of the lowbrow/Pop Surrealism style these days. He transcended the once underground artistic field to find his work elevated to being shown in the most prestigious contemporary art galleries and institutions around the world.
Mark Ryden studied Fine Arts in Pasadena, California and spent much of the 80s and 90s designing record covers for artists such as Michael Jackson, 4 Non-Blondes, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Aerosmith. His work can also be found on book jackets by such notable authors as Stephen King. He continued his craft as a commercial artist until Robert Williams, father of the Lowbrow movement in the 70s and founder of Juxtapoz magazine, the esteemed journal that dedicated a cover feature to him in the mid-90s.
His peculiar style is influenced by different artistic sources. It comes from the classic French painters such as Ingres and from the Flemish tradition led by El Bosco. Those influences are mixed up with elements and characters of the popular culture to create his cryptic, haunting, hypnotic and beautiful work. Ryden’s paintings are very detailed. He often presents childhood innocence alongside the mysterious corridors of the soul with a close to kitsch aesthetic. Over the years, his unique approach has become an important influence to many artists.
Exhibitions have included a 2016 retrospective entitled “Chamber of Wonders” at the Center for Contemporary Art in Malaga (CAC Malaga). He was recently commissioned to create the set and costume design for a new production of “Whipped Cream” set by the American Ballet Theatre, which is a re-imagining of “Schlagobers”, a Richard Strauss composition that was performed for the first time in Vienna at The 1924 State Opera.