Sunday, March 30, 2014

Organic Prefabrication

    I am fascinated by structures and textured  surfaces. In reality I couldn't build anything with refinement. My dad was a carpenter for good part of his working life and yet I never really was able to build things...however, I have a deep appreciation for of carpentry and masonry (both the the process and result). I remember going with Pop on work-sites and marveling at how he and the crew sawed and nailed the wooded house frames, positioned and secured the walls, laid out Sheetrock and secured the roof shingles. It was back breaking work...my dad would come home after a hot NC summer and have my mom peel away his shirt and he would lay in the floor to cool off.
     While at Pop's work-sites, I would play around with scraps...balance the pieces into lego-like configurations...hyperbolize chucks of wood and brick into imaginary palaces and surreal alien sets. I never lost that wonder...that curiosity for balance and isolation...for desolation and creation...for existence and etherealness. Perhaps that is why I love Edward Hopper's edifical paintings...Yves Tanguy's surreal otherworldly constructions/cognitions...and Roger Dean's profoundly iconic (and bong-worthy) album covers.
"Decay" 2014, ink on paper


"Awesome Ideals + Awful Results", 2014, ink

"Pi Plate", 2014, ink

Saturday, February 15, 2014

DaVinci's "Visi Monstruosi"

"There has never been an artist who was more fittingly , and without qualification, described as a genius. The shadow of a great genius is a peculiar thing...Leonardo's was a chilling shadow, too deep, too dark, too overpowering." ~Sister Wendy Beckett~ from Sister Wendy's Story of Painting

   Leonardo DaVinci's sublime ethereal genius has long fascinated me. But of all his magical conjurings...his brilliant art techniques...his mechanical workings, I am most enamored with his ongoing sketchbook studies. These visualizations + his methodical thought processes offer up his most personal meanderings...his questions of life...his pondering of possibilities...his imaginativenesses of what if! But to me some of his show stoppers are his wacky "grotesque" head studies!
DaVinci-3 Grotesque Heads in Profile (detail from a larger sheet)
   Why...you ask. Leonardo's "whimsical" caricatures are so fascinating to me because they demonstrate a satirical "Lowbrow" injection into the staunch conservatism of how we view Renaissance art. He had a curiosity about all things natural, and what could be more natural than the antithesis of "beauty". Despite his outward projection of portrait perfections like the Mona Lisa, Lady with an Ermine, or St. John the Baptist...where he catered to an obvious pursuit of aesthetic "beauty", he also appreciated that perfection is not always as interesting as "imperfection".
DaVinci-Visi Monstruosi Woman's Profile
   The age was awash in monstrous imagery...particularly the North (Netherlands) where Hieronymus Bosch put the sharpest spin on fantastical demons and the muck ridden populace. His shapely pious visions would have been polarized to DaVinci's more secular studies.Bosch's visions derived from his deeply religious inclinations was his personalized sermons...visual translations of biblical sermons and folklore. Like DaVinci, the meanings of Bosch's visual metaphors have been lost through the ages. The pair were contemporaries but I have never heard of them crossing paths. Ha! What a dazzling collaboration that would have been!!
Bosch- Studies of Monsters (front & back of same sheet)
   On a personal note, both of these artist's sketches have impacted my own work. I am profoundly inspired by both artists' counterbalanced perspectives...their echoing visions penetrate and resonate deep inside my psyche. Their surreal objectivity...their juxtaposed aesthetics...their perverse cognitive explorations, draw me...draw these "Monstruosi" in...make me ponder over good/evil...happy/sad...real/unreal.
Marx Myth- I Don't Know


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Aesthetic Apparitions

     We have all experienced it. We see a work of art, or stumble upon a picture in a book or on-line, and an immediate perplexing fervor overtakes us. Oftentimes, it is indefinable...obtusely explicable...familiar yet baffling. This is the vibe I strive for in my paintings...sketches...sculptures. I am not sure why I endeavor to elicit that feeling, but my internal voice rattles off in an excitement when I tap into that vein. I float out of myself, become an imaginary fly-on-the-wall when my work falls into an observer's gaze. What do they see? what do they feel? Do they think the piece is odd...funny...daft? Are they engrossed in questions?
excerpt from The Cracker-Barrel Surrealist Sketchbook
     What do I like? As an audience member, what makes me linger...ogle...flinch...weep...scream?! Wow, that is a very broad question, but (cue music) "here are a few of my favorite things". 
  • DaVinci...how could you not be enamored with his genius. 
  • Hieronymus Bosch...his tortured conflicted visions are brilliantly disturbing
  • Kale...I know, it's a plant/food, but I love the taste, love the nutrition
  • R. Crumb...his line work, his aesthetic pen work is mesmerizing...his wacky toon lifestyle fascinates me
  • Glenn Barr...wow, his retro-style and mastery of paint...awesomeness
  • The Wonders of the Universe...Brian Cox does a great job humanizing astronomy
  • The Golden Age of Illustrators...NC Wyeth, Howard Pyle, Arthur Rackham, Edward Dulac, Maxfield Parrish, Frank Schoonover....
  • Children's artworks...from the early (and ongoing) work from my own kids to all others...their work exemplifies a cathartic honesty and integrity I covet 
  • Norman Rockwell...I feel his caricatures and painting style are brilliantly executed
  • "Alien"...they should have stopped with the 1st movie, but the others have merits...just not as significantly on an artistic level
  • Astronomical Art...I love the visionary concepts of other worlds
So, as a matter of aesthetic investigation...I will shift my discussions from my own work (although I might dredge them up along the way) to a broader commentary on the world as I see it. These topics/persons that I find fascinating will be my focus from here on out. The above list will get me started and I hope to push it as long and as far as I can. MM :)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Appendages...Chassis Outgrowths



"Auspice of the Tin Man" 2010
marker and ballpoint pen
   What makes us "Human"? One can argue that it is our appendages. Yes, we have relatively the same number of bones and bone structure as most vertebrates, but it is the remarkable attributes of our arms and legs that are significantly different from other species.
   But again, what happens if we alter those limbs...are we not still human? The answer is a resounding yes. I argue limb-alteration makes us even more human. Why? Because, humans are the only species capable of altering or perhaps enhancing our appendaged physical structures.
   It mystifies me how we ostracize folks with prostheses...stare at them like they are subhuman...gape at them as if they are circus freaks (whom I dig very much). Nevertheless, I have been guilty of the same faux pas. A young girl from my high school had an accident where both both of her arms were amputated and replaced with artificial limbs; I stared at her and seldom mingled with her. Mind you I was chumming with the stoners and we seldom mixed with anyone without a spliff, still what an abhorrent reaction.
   How warped can our sense of idealized beauty be? ...might I add, Westernized body aesthetics...a very narrow minded sense of attractiveness, that has spread like a virus across the globe. The norm seems to be super thin to the point of absurdity for women (Bratz and Monster High dolls), and super lean butch guys (six-pack abs...who has that much time for the gym?).
   Anywhoo...Here are a few images impounding this topic. I was not really focused on this subject at the conception of each piece...I just noticed a theme afterwards, and thought about addressing it here.
"Bird Lover with Vortex Curls", 2011
marker and ball point

"Clawshoe...Gesundheit", 2010
marker and gel pen

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Mental Anabiosis

"Mental Anabiosis" 1843, ink 
   Artists are regularly impelled towards a cognitive/aesthetic slumber when a creative drought strikes. I have oftentimes found myself in such a stasis; yet low-n-behold a life sustaining shower of inspiration will reign/rain down on me, and I am once again sprouting noetic ballyhoo.
   My tool/weapon/manner of germination has always been my sketchbooks. I keep at least one (typically 3 or four) growing at all times. Ironically this medium has become my primary means of artistic creation/formulation.."it" has flourished into a forest of psychical weeds, esoteric soliloquys, graphical tryouts, character environses, and media oodles.
   What you seed is what you begat.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Art with my Kids

"Underground Revitalization", co-created when Liam was 9 years old
   I am very fortunate to have two VERY creative kids. My son Liam has been doodling on paper with me since he was able to hold a pencil. Our first collaborations began shortly after that, when he instructed me to "decorate my picture daddy"...so LiaMarx became an entity then and there. We have continued working together...however, once he became a teen and established his own visual-voice...he did not want me modifying his work. So, we shifted the co-creations from visual art to a writing. Now we have begun conjuring own own original tales; we must have compiled over a dozen stories so far. Hopefully we can publish our work someday soon.
"Water Breathers", co-created when Liam was 8 years old
    My Daughter Paige also has the creative spark. Arguably, she has an even stronger visual muse than her brother...and perhaps even me. She compulsively draws every day...easily going through a ream of print paper on a regular basis. I have posted some of her very first sketches with me (PaigeMarx), so her primordial vignettes are very ethereal...even visceral in origin. This made my alterations more abstracted...more surreal...more dada-ish. She also has continued her own narrative path...scoring her own toons and comics in a unique visual style.
"Green-Cookie" co-created when Paige was 4 years old

"Candy Thorn" co-created when Paige was 5 years old
   Later on, I will post their own "unembellished" work (if they give me permission). They are a bit more guarded than their old man.

Monday, May 13, 2013

"Monster Heads", 2011 & 2012, Sculpey, glass beads, and acrylic paint mounted on a wood base

"Vampire Trophy" 2011
photography by Seth Benson
   These heads are derivative of trophies one might have after a hunt. Of course they are injected with the same dose of whimsey and satire typically seen in most of my character designs. The initial idea for these stemmed from a sculpting workshop I gave...it  was only to last 3 days so I had to conceive of method that could be rapidly sculpted, fired, and painted. Taxidermy monster heads seemed to be the best fit.
   Each piece was formed over an aluminum foil core; Sculpey(TM) served as the sculptural vehicle. I wanted to include slightly "realistic" eyes because sculpted eyes are often too "lifeless". The vampire's ears were formed over thick cardboard cutouts. I wanted to make him appear older and battle-scarred, so I placed a long fleshy trench down his face over his left eye. His scale is approximately 9" x 12". I mounted him to the stained wood base with Liquid Nails.
   "Glob" is supposed to be the remnant of a viscious/viscous cyclops warrior; I wanted it to appear to be still oozing. His eye, (like the vampire's) has a hole punched deep into the head.  It was painted black prior to firing to give the impression of a pupil. Since the glass is green, I treated it like it was pure iris (no sclera).
"Glob" 2012
photography by Kristina Phillips
   I haven't created a sculptural piece in a while now; but it is time to makes plans to jump back into it again soon.