Lately I’ve been thinking not of Noah, but an article of his in TCJ #291 on fine artists Ryan Christian and Neil Whitacre. Lazy executive summary: they cross-pollinate with comics– go look.

Two exhibits now at the Cincinnati Art Museum present two more artists ripe for cross-pollination. I’d love to see what kind of comics they’d do, or you’d do after seeing them.

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First, Ryan McGinness fills a room with blacklights and canvasses. Big in Japan, McGinness is well known to Giant Robot readers and design fans. Aesthetic Comfort overflows with his trademark icons– like the blue man of the restroom, except it’s a stormtrooper and a skater.

As if to put the lie to Damien Hirst’s spin paintings, McGinness turns in three large discs overflowing onto the wall. Each holds dozens of silkscreened images, repeated over and over. His fluorescent acrylic colors can’t be reproduced digitally, and each icon rests on layers of other icons, layers of paint. It certainly makes the notional rather tactile.

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Upstairs, Ji?í Anderle has prints. Drypoint, mezzotint, etching. I bought the catalogue like a sinner, because the book’s printing loses all the glorious details of where paper met the plate. (And the pages aren’t three feet tall.)

Anderle, one of the few in the Czech avant-garde who occasionally got out of the country under Communism, draws half Old Master, half avant-garde. Since this blog’s on comics, I can point to Barron Storey and his lineage, like Bill Sienkiewicz and Dave McKean. The media are different, and Storey et al. draw from punk rock as much as Klimt. But they all share radical experimentation based on a classical foundation. (And Anderle’s 1980s series of Commedia dell’arte images have a grotesque king presaging Metalzoic-era Kevin O’Neill, the only artist whose style itself got rejected by the Comics Code). But while comics (and its printing processes) treat each image as a commodity for the narrative, Anderle’s reward deeper looking.

I want to write more on Anderle. On his minute steps through space and time, punning on the states of an etching. But I need a few more hours with the prints. Fortunately, Illusion and Reality runs until January 4 and costs nothing.
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And while I would like to see both these artists do a comic or two, Anderle’s contemporary Jan Krej?í did at least a page:

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