Mark Ryden is an American painter, dubbed the god-father of pop-surrealism. His work takes inspiration from anything mysterious – old toys, anatomy, taxidermy, religious symbols and objects. He has held more than ten solo exhibitions all around the world and has created album artwork for bands such as Jack Off Jill.
Ryden’s work features usually soft, pastel colour palettes and the subjects drawn most often look like children; they have big heads, huge eyes and wear clothes often seen exclusively in children’s fashion. His paintings seem very sweet and cute on a quick glance until you notice things that feel “out of place”, like a very small Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln is a common character in Ryden’s paintings, along with ongoing use of religious symbols, images of meat and intestines, numbers and toys. A lot of his artwork has unsettling undertones of political or social issues, although he has said in an interview by Wertical, that it is not a conscious effort to add any political subtexts into his work.
Aside from oil paintings, Mark Ryden has created a few porcelain sculptures featuring chunks of meat and angels, fashion and organs, and Abraham Lincoln as a meat monger. Overall his work is very interesting and open to interpretation by the viewer. Mark Ryden does not play into the cheap cliches of horror in art, but does it very subtly.