Here’s the thing: the moment I gazed upon Mark Ryden’s painting entitled Incarnation, a six-foot high canvas which depicts a young girl in a lush Victorian garden, wearing a dress made from various cuts of raw meat, I knew I had to see more of this artist’s work. Luckily for me and anyone else who is able to get to the Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York City, Ryden’s latest collection of paintings and sketches are the subject of the delightfully surreal and downright bizarre Gay 90s Olde Tyme Art Show, which opened with a festive reception last evening. While the up-the-ass-hype machine surrounding this show prompted Geoffrey and I to arrive in advance of the scheduled start time of 5:00 PM, there were only a few fellow art lovers in the gallery when we first entered, which gave us time to see and attempt to really soak in the splendor of the entire collection in a mercifully un-crowded space. This was not the case twenty minutes later, when the gallery grew dense with hardcore Ryden fans, most of whom were dressed in authentic gay nineties-period fashions. Very cool!
For those unfamiliar with Ryden’s work, I’d say he favors mixing the mundane and anachronistic with the utterly fantastic, creating visual tableaus which often border on themes of science fiction and even horror. The Gay 90s collection incorporates many of his reoccurring icons including Jesus, Abraham Lincoln, raw meat, embryos, bees, root vegetables and doe-eyed child-women. I find his paintings to be completely captivating. It is no wonder that each piece in this exhibit has already been sold or put on reserve. I will definitely be going back for another viewing, and bringing friends.
The Paul Kasmin Gallery is located at the corner of 10th Avenue and 27th Street, where Mark Ryden’s Gay 90s Olde Tyme Art Show runs through June 5, 2010.