Cut from neo-Victorian cloth, painters Mark Ryden and Marion Peck are the king and queen of the Lowbrow/Pop Surrealism art scene. A long time cult figure, Ryden's latest show in LA was “The Gay 90's: West," at Kohn Gallery in 2014. Nearly two years in the making, the show drew over 2,000 attendees the first day. Fellow artist Marion is the yin to Ryden's yang; stylistically one can see how each influences the other's work. They are the arbiters of fantasy and exaggerated kitsch, wrapped up in a colorful Victorian epitaph. Collectively, the artists have nearly half a million followers on social media, and their collector roster includes Cliff and Mandy Einstein, singer Katy Perry, and actor Leonardo DiCaprio.
In his 1435 treatise De pictura, the Renaissance-era philosopher Leon Battista Alberti notably laid out the rules for history painting, or istoria, in which rules of perspective and creating a lifelike esemblance to nature, with a clear emphasis on notions of beauty and visual pleasure, are given top priority. Equally important for Alberti was the idea that the spectator of a painting ought to be able to conceptually enter into that picture.
In the last few years, a number of major Los Angeles art galleries relocated to new, larger and more ambitiously designed spaces. A couple of weeks ago, Michael Kohn Gallery opened the doors of its impressive new space on Highland Avenue. Its large main gallery, with its skylights and 22-foot ceiling, has the gravitas of a museum space. The new space was inaugurated with an exhibition by well known LA artist Mark Ryden, who has a following not only among serious art collectors, but among young, hip crowds as well.