filed under: art, paintings
i must admit i’m slightly stupefied by this artwork from miami artist john zoller. this is john’s united states color and learn series of paintings and drawings, a collection that he started several years ago and has been adding to regularly. they’re based on traditional american educational coloring books that were used to teach our culture’s history to children. these oversized, bright and playful presentations pay homage to traditional pop art style, and are the first reasons that compel you to look. the painting style is a familiar reflection of mid-century illustration techniques. each piece, soft and glistening with color, glitter, plastic eyeballs and pompoms, is a “typical” example of the pioneering spirit of our iconic forefathers and of average everyday youth at work and play. the longer you look, though, the quicker all that style falls to the wayside. the glitter turns cold, and those plastic eyes are more static and soulless than cute. imagine a seamless transport to a place where levels of high indoctrination, historical inaccuracies and modern tragedy meet a hungry longing for utopian youth, with nostalgia and dark humor as its vehicle, and walk the line into this collection.
i want to speak to the versatility here. this is jarring social commentary wrapped in a bright and pretty package, but people can choose not to derive the deep meaning either, and can simply enjoy the images and historical narrative. of course i think the artwork is so much richer when looking at the complete picture. it’s edgy, political and eerily haunting. the artist himself describes the content of his series “like a time released drug with a long list of bad side effects.” how apropos.
to me, john’s painting technique and style is like a fabulous party, and the impact of these works is like the smoke that rolls into the room at the event. you might not notice it at first. when you do, it might make you uncomfortable, and when you leave, it lingers with you, just as the the events of the evening do in your mind. intertwined, integrated, affecting. the mark of a highly successful and satisfying experience.
thanks for the info, john!