The 1980’s was aglow in hyper color, hyper partying, and hyper hedonism, and this reckless and decadent decade paved the proverbial way for new conceptions in music, art, architecture, and social culture, stretching the considered norms into something altogether new. From 1984-1989 (pre-T.A.Z. times), the artist Jim Evans diverged from his more esoteric influences and leaned towards the cultural role of the glorified and mega-gorgeous celebrity.
Using large-scale canvases, Evans rendered legendary celebrities of celluloid and rock n’ roll fame in high-fructose paint, giving Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall, Madonna, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Dick Clark and their famous contemporaries within an expansive and multi-decade canon of pop culture, music, television, and film a pumped-up, renovated facade. In some cases, Evans worked directly with the subjects themselves, commissioned by record labels and film studios, as well as Playboy magazine. The result? Five years’ worth of celebrity pop portraits and Evans, thereby extending his personal milieu from rock musician, to surf artist, to sought-after graphic designer, to the inventor of the “icon narrative.”
Along with Richard Duardo, the ingenious printmaker referenced as “the Warhol of the West,” Evans masterfully created these super stylized pop portraits, adorned with collages, scribbles, hand-drawn patterns and sweeping arcs. This version of visual, indelible “manifestos for the overstimulated” (Evans’s words) were like the emboldened stepsisters to Warhol’s seminal portraits. Unlike Warhol, whom he describes as desirous of “emptying out imagery,” Evans was
compelled to “upgrade the image.” And upgrade he did, using a fearlessly hued palette of cosmic fuchsia, fireball orange, otherworldly green, solar yellow, and extraterrestrial blues. Throughout his artistic career, Evans’s artwork, whether it’s original concert posters produced for Green Day, The Ramones, the Beastie Boys, a Tibetan Freedom tour, or these Neo-pop portraits of cultural idols, consistently includes audacious colors and overlaid, elaborate illustrations – these elements connect his work throughout the decades.
Palm Springs’ Gallery 446 is showing this collection of pop portraits during the much-anticipated Modernism Week, as the vivid nature of this work complements the inherently dazzling and star-studded city of Palm Springs. Curated by art consultant Eddie Donaldson, MODERNISM: The Art of the Pop Portrait 1984-1989 opens on Saturday, February 7th and is on view until March 8th and if you want to meet the artist himself and delve into his multifarious mind, Jim Evans will be at Gallery 446 on the evening of February 14th for the artist reception.
MODERNISM: The Art of the Pop Portrait 1984-1989 includes not only the large-scale original paintings within this collective body of work (not seen together since 1989), but also framed and unframed one-of-a-kind signed serigraphs and limited edition prints produced with Duardo himself, the founder of Modern Multiples, who passed away unexpectedly last November. In the 1980’s and ’90’s, some of these pop portraits were shown at The Hansen Gallery (Beverly Hills), the Zero One Gallery (Los Angeles), and the Merrill Chase Gallery (Chicago).
See you in the desert, where old- and new-school glamour and sparkling stardust merge with contemporary art and modern architecture.
Pop Portrait, Rebuilt and Reissued – LimitedRuns.com