By Long Gone John
|Renowned for his obscenely prolific dual careers as fine artist and illustrator - a stint which has produced work for nearly every pop culture magazine with a pulse (and some without), and album covers for, among others, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Butthole-Surfers, and Michael Jackson - Mark Ryden finally unveils his newest body of work: The Meat Show. On the brink of his opening at LA's Mendenhall Gallery, the artist paused to speak with Sympathy For The Record lndustry's CEO and longtime patron Long Gone John about the virtues of Abe Lincoln, Colonel Sanders and USDA Grade A beef.
Make no mistake. This is no gratuitous, rectum-licking, whitewashed account of Mark Ryden's importance in the world of art. Yes, Mark is a friend of mine, and yes, I have in the past and will continue in the future to spend ludicrous amounts of money purchasing his artwork. This does not necessarily make my opinions biased one way or the other, and none of this has much bearing on the undisputed fact that Mark Ryden is a shining light at the end of the proverbial tunnel of art mediocrity. You see, Mark still paints the old fashioned way: the hard way. The process is long and involved, but when a painting is finished it is a masterpiece miraculous revelation to behold. Mark Ryden is, among many other things, a bit of an enigma. He's a classic example of what I like to refer to as a "thorn in the side of a wildebeest of a different color." The following is a true and factual account of my interrogation of Mr. Ryden to the best of my considerably limited capabilities.
So what makes you think you're so much better than everyone else?
Actually, on the contrary, I never really feel like any particular painting is good enough. It always seems like I could do more. If I didn't have the deadline of the gallery opening I guess I would labor on the same paintings forever.
Which artist do you feel you've stolen the most ideas from?
My son Jasper. He comes up with great ideas. His work contains a certain rudimentary abandon rarely seen outside of grade school and he is too young to know what plagiarism is.
Have you ever had an original idea?
When I painted Abraham Lincoln lying on the ground giving birth from his cheek to the baby Venus delivered by Colonel Sanders I thought that was pretty original. I had at first envisioned it as Colonel Sanders giving birth to Abraham Lincoln, but upon the realization that had been done several times I cleverly added my unique twist.
What is it about Abe Lincoln that intrigues you so? Is it the big mole on his face or his demented chickenhawk gaze?
He was the "King of Presidents."
Speaking of kings, can you tell us something about your encounter with the King of Pop?
Are there any lower life forms on earth than gallery owners?
Perhaps a mirror-disco ball, or how about some of those new, glow-in-the-dark stars?
Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
I love chicken, especially the Colonel's; never cared much eggs, though.
-Long Gone John, Mark Ryden