New Surrealism

New Surrealism 2Origin: Commision

Pam and Scott Larson 2I recently completed the commission you see at left.  It was to commemorate a couple’s wedding day.  To give me some ideas, the person who would be giving the piece to the couple showed me photos from the ceremony.  The wedding took place at El Dorado Royale, a beach-side resort near Cancun.  The bride wore purple and carried orange calla lilies.  I decided to incorporate both colors into my composition.

When I researched the location, one of the features that stood out was the series of bed-like huts positioned near the shoreline.  They were both iconic and romantic, so I included one of these huts in the final image.

When I was working on the piece, I was instantly inspired by the colors and shapes.  There was something attractively otherworldly about the clouds, the sun, the water….  Art ideas flooded into my brain, all of them trippy.  In the days that followed, I produced a series of surreal cut-out collages incorporating the colors and forms of the wedding piece.

Dreaming Himself

Dreaming Himself on wall

Dreaming Himself explores the strange reality of the dream-body and its connection to the waking body.  When we dream, we are apparently embodied.  And yet that body and the world around it do not follow the same rules as their waking counterparts.  It is as if we have slipped through a portal to a new dimension.

I was happy to work with some of my favorite themes again, namely splitting and dreams.  I was also thrilled to make the mechanical cut-out process visibly part of the composition.  The blue sections on the lower figure are made of the “unwanted” negative space from the upper figure, and vice versa.

Now, will the real self please stand up?

The Blue RoomThe Blue Room framedThe Blue Room is more of a Symbolist piece.  The walls of the room, the sky and the reflection it casts are variations on the color of depression.  The sashbars suggest nothing less than prison bars.  The only glimmer of hope — the hue of new growth — is contained in the artwork on the wall.  Not in the flower seen in silhouette on the table, but in a facsimile reality.

Indeed, the “window” to the world of art is more beautiful than the physical window.  Art and fantasy are often our only escape, our only joy.  It is in imagining other worlds that this world becomes bearable, perhaps even transformable.

Strange Child with Cat

Strange Child with Cat from belowStrange Child with Cat may be there to greet you on the other side of the portal — or rabbit hole.  Yes, Alice in Wonderland was on my mind when I thought of giving this cat the boy’s face and the boy no face at all.  It is as though the boy were living through — or dreaming through — the cat’s body.

I often dream of cats, and it is said that every being and object in our dreams are aspects of our psyches.  The cats in my dreams, then, are me.  How rare and exquisite it is to be them!

The billowing green forms in the background suggest puffs of smoke.  I though they were interesting enough visually to justify placing the boy slightly off-center.  It wouldn’t have worked with a more plain background, but the eye actually travels all over these colors.

New Surrealism 2

2 thoughts on “New Surrealism

  1. Hey Dean, what a lovely commission to celebrate a wedding and the image you’ve created looks appropriately joyful and celebratory. I’m loving these triply colours too; this is a colour palette artists often shy away from I think but you demonstrate how to produce bold, confident images that work with the strong colour, quite a feat, bravo!

    • Thank you, Phil! There is an advantage to being able to compare different color combinations before I decide which papers to put together. This is something you no doubt learned early in your collage development process. Your color combinations are always so good….

      I have also been thinking about my mother, who is a quilter and fabric artist. She has the biggest inventory of fabric I’ve ever seen, and I know how much thought she puts into the swatches she combines! I am trying to learn from the best….

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