Memes and Master Artists
There are some people who think that only artists like Andy Warhol are truly integrated within or exemplify pop culture. That’s just not true. Internet memes are the internet’s way of documenting the ironic humor and strange concerns of the web’s digital citizens. If you Google search “memes,” the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the term as:
- memes plural of meme (Noun):
- 1. An element of a culture or behavior that may be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, esp. imitation.
- 2. An image, video, etc. that is passed electronically from one Internet user to another.
Memes are a phenomena. Would you believe it if you were told that memes are being turned into fine art or that fine art and master artists were becoming the subject of memes?
Most of us who frequent the worldwide web know who Grumpy Cat is, among other interesting visages; well, these memes are being turned into art. Czech artist Jeremiah Palecek may have helped pioneer a new art genre termed on his website as Net Surrealism. He has been quoted as being a next “Web Warhol.”
“If something hits me the right way then I want to paint it. This could be a series of paintings about internet memes, or it could be paintings of video games I played when I was little, it could be sketches of webcam girls in a chatroom, or Sarah Palin with a third eye….I know that I will then I don’t really care,” Palecek says in his artist statement.
Palecek’s statement emphasizes a movement that some artists are beginning to leap into without reserve as to what most of us think of as “true art.” Take a look at a few of the following examples to get a feel of the modern meme art competing alongside Net Surrealism.
Grumpy Cat Painting Immortalizes a Meme Icon
For those not familiar with the Grumpy Cat meme phenomena, first look here. Now that everyone has been familiarized with Grumpy Cat (a.k.a. Lil Bub), it is time to be exposed to Grumpy Cat paintings. Listed below are two sample paintings inspired by Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” and Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” The artist of these works is Aja of Sagittarius Gallery, whose works are available in her Etsy shop. Peruse the shop and one will notice that Aja’s art is definitely more than meme art.
This painting was inspired by Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.”
This image was clearly inspired by Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.”
Aja resides in New York and has a strong focus in figure art. Her bold lines are reminiscent both Munch’s and Van Gogh’s use of stroke and outlining; however, her colors are bright and powerful, reminding one of a midsummer’s day. She also focuses on landscape and urbanscape. With over 500 patrons in 70 countries, the artist is well sought. She has this to say about her work, “The process is conscious yet subconscious–an image is rarely preconceived, but it materializes through the oil laden swipe of the knife. It’s rather chaotic in it’s conception in that traditional sketches are not only abandoned but ignored entirely.” Even in her other paintings, you may see traces of Munch, Van Gogh, and other artists.
Van turns Van Gogh into Decal Art
Usually decals are those company logos for your local plumbing company that says something along the lines of: “To the rescue! Fast, affordable leaky faucet fixers,” with a plumber’s silhouette holding a wrench and running toward the leaky faucet which is incorporated into the logo. Well, the graphic designer/artist that got commissioned to render “Starry Night” by Van Gogh onto the van must have been relieved to break up the monotony.
It is interesting to see how master artists, such as Munch and Van Gogh, are having their work interpreted in the Age of Information Technology. If there truly is a Net Surrealism or modern meme art emerging among artists, it begs the question of what counter art movement will arise? Every art movement has its counter movement, as Neoclassicism had Impressionism. What is certain is that we live in an interesting, if not strange, age for aesthetics.