Pop surrealism is an art mode much associated with the modern age, or rather, an inferior art style that doesn’t particularly tie in with the more coveted and valued works of the late century. However, pop surrealism offers something that traditional art cannot – a sense of precision, whimsy and vitally an ambiguous sense of nostalgia that fulfils the core artistic goal of tying many to one cohesive point of perception.

In rooting art style within the surreal, one draws away from trying to replicate normality, or rather, normality and reality become skewed and abstract. This, unlike some modern art, doesn’t result in a directly basic, or abstract depiction. Oftentimes subjects and environment are excellently and precisely rendered. The effect this approach has, is a heightening and intensification of subjects resulting in a composition that is both traditional, yet distinctly set apart from artistic confines, with a sporadic sort of air that rejects conformity.

Pop culture is something that is also intrinsic to pop-surrealism. Artists infamously tie in popular art and artists, whilst also providing a strong sense of social commentary alongside it all. An example of this being Mith his integration of political figures and frequent depictions of meat. Ryden himself is not a vegetarian, but appreciates the controversial context of meat consumption, and uses it to highlight the inherent baseness of the human condition.

Away from Ryden, who is so often heralded as the father of pop-surrealism, there are countless other hugely talented and prominent artists- all of who epitomise the movement in their own unique way. Helice Wen focuses on the female subject, immersing her in every element of symbolism, with her recent piece at Spoke Gallery drawing away from her often sexualised depictions with a visual representation of T.S. Eliot’s Preludes.

Mab Graves is another artist who frequents the female subject, with a slightly less traditionally inclined style, her precise methods and most incredibly, her depiction of landscapes tie her cartoon-ish characters within a wonderfully juxtaposing realm. Her art is largely representative of her battle with endometriosis, with the confines of the physical being put up against the release of the divine and natural.

Lola Gil is not as confined to the female form, as many other excellent artists (say Tran Nguyen) might be, she reinterprets the visual with a direct focus on household objects, or items of pop-culture, paired with an often slightly disproportionate herald.

Pop surrealism is inherently rooted in the now; with its depictions of common culture and idealised characters, ambiguity is heightened and relatability maximised. The art form occupies a secure space not only historically with figures such as Hieronymus Bosch, but within a contemporary context too, ultimately enabling one to not only freely express as an artist, but to feel attuned to something so wholly metaphysical and outside of our every day, as the viewer.

May Huxley

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