Artists Alex Pardee and “Skinner” holed up for three weeks in a California studio recently, then came out the other end of their creative confab with a series of graphic demolition jobs that make brightly colored mincemeat of pop-culture icons.
Their Butcher Kings show, on display at Los Angeles’ Gallery 1998 through Oct. 20, includes peppy takedowns of characters like the Incredible Hulk, Luke Skywalker and Freddy Krueger. Forget respectful homage: Pardee and Skinner take delight in reconfiguring these and other familiar visages into grotesques that radiate a bizarre star power all their own.
Skinner explained the method behind Butcher Kings‘ mad graphics in an e-mail to Wired.com. “We took the existing vocabulary of what we had experienced as young kids of the ’80s, genetically encode that with the understanding of the popular zeitgeist today and put it in a blender with our sardonic and strange outlooks,” he said.
The artists spiked the brew with a whopping dollop of misanthropy. “I myself have crossed wires,” Skinner said, “due to a heavy spite for the essence of where mankind is in its de-evolutionary state as well as my own twisted form of humor involving beloved icons.
“Also,” he added, “I did a lot of acid.”
‘A lot of the best art is made in the throes of career-ending delirium.’
San Francisco-based Pardee creates concept art for films (including Sucker Punch) when not making the kind of more personal work recently published in Awful Resilient: The Art of Alex Pardee (Ginkgo Press).
For the Butcher Kings show, he joined Skinner in his Sacramento, California, studio to produce the prints, which are priced from $100 to $1,000.
Working together in close quarters on a tight deadline for the joint exhibit induced a state of creative “delirium” that found expression in the final product.
“We were jacked up on coffee and mostly absurdity, the kind of unhinged absurdity that most people would relate to as being a sort of career-ending meltdown,” said Skinner. “The good thing is, a lot of the best art is made in the throes of career-ending delirium! We wanted to provide ourselves with a place to do something surreal outside of our comfort zones.”
Butcher Kings runs through Oct. 20 at Gallery1988, 7020 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles.