Gary Baseman takes pride in the weird and wonderful. [Photos provided to Shanghai Star]
Innovative United States artist is bringing his weird and wonderful creations to the Chinese mainland. Zhang Kun reports.
Remember the monsters that kept you awake at night when you were a child? The ones that hide under your bed and inside your wardrobe?
Gary Baseman brings them alive in the bright light of day. The United States artist, illustrator, animator and toy designer is having a retrospective exhibition at the chi K11 Art Museum, presenting more than 100 artworks created during his 30 years' career.
Among his creations is Dumb Luck, a rabbit that holds a lucky rabbit's foot which is his own, amputated leg, the Happy Idiot, a snowman who melts himself down to make a puddle of water for his beloved mermaid to live in, and Chou Chou, a pink spirit that takes away negative energy and hatred, turns it into creamy goo that oozes out of his belly button, to name just a few.
These creatures are on show as 3D sculptures, drawings and video projections, in displays that are designed to look like a home.
Baseman even brought furniture from his parents' home in Los Angeles to make the living room, dining room, bedroom look more real and feel accessible for visitors.
This is his debut exhibition in the Chinese mainland. The retrospective, named Gary Baseman: The Door Is Always Open, was held at MoCA Taipei earlier this year.
"Gary started out in illustration and he has transitioned into many fields of art. He has been working in fine arts for 15 years," says Denise A. Gray, curator of the show. Gray has worked at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Los Angeles for 12 years.
"Throughout his career and through multiple media, Baseman has explored the human condition, showing through his iconic characters images of the complexity of life," Gray says. "The Door Is Always Open will prompt visitors to reflect and share their own stories about family, friends, mortality, pain and suffering, love and loss, secrets and truth."
Baseman was born in Los Angeles in 1960. His parents were Eastern European Jews who survived the Holocaust and immigrated to the United States.
The entrance to the exhibition is expansive.
As an illustrator he used to work with established publications such as the New Yorker, Time, Rolling Stone, Los Angeles Times and more. He is the artistic designer of the popular board game Cranium, and creator of a Disney TV series, Teacher's Pet.
Baseman made his hard break in the late 1990s, transiting from commercial art to fine art. He coined the term "Pervasive art", stating his goal was to "blur the lines between fine art and commercial art".
Baseman says his early sources of inspiration came from Warner Bros. cartoons, Disneyland and MAD Magazine.
With the influence from Disney, he has crossed boundaries with entertainment, spectacle and character-based work, and from Andy Warhol, the master of pop artist, he has identified with commentaries on pop culture: wanting art to be for everybody, and bringing democracy to art. "He really wants to tear down the walls...That's why he didn't want to have a white-walls exhibition for his retrospection. He wants art to be more accessible," Gray says.
Baseman will be painting on site during the exhibition, and visitors are welcome to touch the exhibits, sit on the chairs and sofa and play with some of the stuffed toys at the show.
The Door is Always Open: Gary Baseman's Solo Exhibition
10 am-8 pm, till Mar 5, 2015
Shanghai chi K11 Art Mall, B3, 300 Huaihai Road Middle, Luwan district