by Andrew Arnett
It is a political year, if you haven’t noticed. Everywhere you turn, it’s politics all the time. It can get to be a little overwhelming. Despite your leanings, the spectacle takes on a circus atmosphere and politicians come off like sinister clowns hiding behind painted smily faces. If you think you’re losing grip on your mind, have no fear. Pop artist Marion Peck has objectified your living nightmare into a series of surreal paintings for your viewing pleasure.
Peck’s politically motivated new series, entitled Red Clown, Blue Clown, is currently on view at the Corey Helford Gallery in Los Angeles through February 29th. This is her first solo show in the U.S. since 2013 and features nine new oil on canvas paintings. The former Los Angeles native (now living in Portland, Oregon) explains how this work came about, saying:
I would say this work is more political than my work normally is. These are strange times, and it felt somehow impossible to just carry on as usual. I saw a talk on the psychology of climate change which impressed upon me how urgently we all need to talk about it with each other. It is just so huge of a thing that it’s almost impossible to take it in, much less talk about, so we shut it out; some people to the point of denying it altogether, while most of us just push it to the backs of our minds. Even for those of us who care desperately, it’s so hard to talk about…it’s depressing, to say the least! I made ‘Red Clowns in a Landscape’ [pictured below] in order to try to talk about climate change, and the rest of the show, the clown portraits, followed.
Peck says her big influences are Picasso, Cubism, and interpretations of perspective plans by way of modern art. Undoubtedly, she combines this modernity with a classical pictorial technique. The result is a dreamlike surrealism which makes for pure pop art. Her paintings are often filled with furry creatures, outlandish landscapes and circus clowns. In describing her fascination with clowns, Peck explains:
I have long enjoyed painting clowns. Clowns have depth. They are disturbing, like strange spirits, mysterious characters emerging from the depths of the psyche, which is why many people fear them. Clowns convey pure emotion. It can be very cathartic to paint them. The paintings I made for Red Clown, Blue Clown allowed me to express some of the intense, difficult feelings I have living in these crazy times, when everything seems poised to fall apart. Sometimes it feels like all a person can do to keep from going insane is to sit back and watch it all happen, just like watching a circus.
Marion Peck was born in Manila, Philippines (1963) and grew up in Seattle, WA. She lives with her husband, the artist Mark Ryden, in Portland, OR. She received a BFA from The Rhode Island School of Design in 1985 and studied in two different MFA programs, Syracuse University in New York and Temple University in Rome. While studying in Rome, Peck sought to master the skill and technique of the Italian masters of the 16th and 17th centuries.
Peck would go on to merge the techniques of the Italian masters with a more contemporary style and create works in the field of figurative art known as Pop Surrealism. She has exhibited in museums and galleries around the world. Her work has graced album covers including Waking the Mystics by Portland art rock group Sophe Lux.
About her, ABRAMS books states, “For over 20 years, Marion Peck has stood out in the contemporary art scene as the godmother of Pop Surrealism. A unique artist who distanced herself from passing trends and seasonal impulses, Peck joyfully plays and blends all of the rules of classical pictorial technique with modernity to introduce us to a world both familiar and enchanting.”
Her publications include: Cari Estinti Exhibition Catalog (2006), Paintings by Marion Peck (2003), Sweet Wishes (2008), Animal Love Summer (2010), and Lamb Land: The Art of Marion Peck (2016).
Asked to describe her work, Peck explains, “If there is a narrative to emerge from my paintings, I hope it would be just like a very short poem.” Her artistic pieces are filled to the brim with memorable characters drawn by the stream of dreams; Peck’s subjects are full of life, sometimes simply adorable, soft or extremely funny.”
January 25, 2020 | 7pm – 11pm
January 25 – February 29, 2020
COREY HELFORD GALLERY
571 S. Anderson St. Los Angeles, CA 90033
Open Tuesday-Saturday, 12pm – 6pm