Mark Ryden was born in Medford Oregon. He received a BFA in 1987 from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. His studio, situated in Los Angeles, is a treasure trove of bric-a-brac collected from flea-markets and op shops; endless amounts of toys, religious statues, dolls, antiques and many items described only as obscure (including skeletons and anatomical figures) are his models, arranged to be painted and recorded by the artist. Ryden also gains his inspiration, not only from art galleries but from various museums. These include medical museums (e.g. The Museo la Specola) and museums of natural history. This combination of medical wax figures of the body and organs along with the study of creatures and animals helped inspire the trademark meat figure in his work.
Mark Ryden's artwork has a constantly frightening or nightmarish feel to it; the use of comforting, beautiful and well known images suddenly becomes obscure as it is thrown into a new and curious context. It is childhood fairytale beauty juxtaposed with garish adult horror and symbolism, and can turn the hyper cute' into something highly disconcerting.
The most prominent and continuous of all figures in Ryden's work are that of children, in particular, young girls. The bodies of these people are obviously that of children however the faces, whilst still wide-eyes and cherubic, hold a curious wisdom and secrecy beyond the years of the child herself. This continual reflection of children ties into Ryden's surrealist exploration of the imagination, and the child's world. It is promotes certain sentiments and ideas; that children may be sagely instead of naive, or in some ways connect to the inner child' of the audience.
The children's world is continually reflected through out with the appearance of toys and plush animals and obscure landscapes that seem akin to the stop-motion films by Tim Burton, such as The nightmare before Christmas'. With rich and well-worked color,...