"Taking inspiration from children’s fables, Californian painter Mark Ryden spins these characters and landscapes into ornately detailed, flawless and wonderfully disturbing images. His pieces evoke childhood memories, then through a meshing together of different subject matter plays in the viewer’s subconscious, twisting what is remembered in new and disquieting directions. Serene, almost childlike characters are mixed with elements such as crosses, bloody chunks of meat, trains sets and beautiful clothing.
Mark Ryden's YHWH. photo by Brian McCarty
"In the Pink of the Carnivalesque"
Debra J. Byrne - 2005
"Although often pink and pretty, Mark Ryden’s paintings are not for the faint of heart. In his dazzling mixmaster universe, symbols of truth and innocence intermingle with signs of adulteration and dark mystery. Among his spectacles are fuzzy bunnies ripped in half and gushing red blood; a pumpkin-headed president presiding over a bizarre paradise of toddlers, devil-dog, and chirping God; Abraham Lincoln and Jesus Christ joining the circus, juggling raw meat and parading balloons; and, throughout, prepubescent girls who languidly pose for voyeurs’ gazes. At once disturbingly funny, nightmarish, and obsessive, this strange vision lands Ryden squarely in the camp of the carnivalesque—a strain of visual culture rooted in such works as Hieronymous Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights (about 1505) and Pieter Bruegel’s Peasant Dance (1565) and, more recently, James Ensor’s Christ’s Entry into Brussels in 1889 (1888) and Richard Hamilton’s Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing? (1956). Ryden’s paintings stand tall in this eccentric canon. ..."