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Monday, July 2, 2018

The Past Meets Pop

Unknown title, unknown artist, unknown date.
If I were start off cold writing about anachronisms, most art-loving readers' fingers would either click "next" or go scurrying to Google to find out what the word means. Let me save you the bother. An anachronism is an object appropriate to a period other than that in which it exists (or is depicted), especially an item that is conspicuously out of its historic context. An antique car among present day vehicles parked in an urban parking garage would be an anachronism. That would involve a natural anachronism, one that is possible but not necessarily likely. Above is a rather bland, bucolic, 19th-Century landscape having little or no bearing as to present day art. Below is the same image having been visited by the imagination and brushstrokes of New York artist, David Pollot.

Psycho--Bates Motel Parody, David Pollot
David Pollot paints unnatural anachronisms; that is, modern-day elements injected into tired, outdated, long-forgotten scenes from the past. Thus Pollot gives old, unwanted thrift store art a new lease of life, by painting amusing 21st-Century pop culture figures into the scenery of discarded canvases (or prints). With an affinity for all pop culture, the New York-based artist Dave Pollot dedicates his time to transforming unloved works of art into modernized masterpieces, featuring some of his favorite characters. From Pennywise the clown to Walmart. Then he has his modified image photographed and turned into modestly-priced copies of his "originals." Dave’s artwork has proven to be a huge hit online, with his sales on the Artisan site, Etsy, reaching over 14,000 units. And all along we thought Pop Art died in the 1970s.

Pollot's anachronism (upper image) and my own version from the Baltic city of Tallin, Estonia. The wall in the background is over one-thousand years old.
David Pollot is thirty-nine. He left a well-paying job as a software engineer to pursue his passion full-time. For Pollot, no modern-day pop icon is safe. His work features a wide variety of contemporary characters and corporations within his parody mash-ups. Incorporating the characters in the exact style of his chosen backdrop, his juxtaposition of historic eras are all the more startling when, as with his Old Market Expansion (above, upper image) their subtlety causes them to "surprise" the viewer. My own version falls under the realm of a "natural" anachronism--the scene actually exists.

The Forfeit, David Pollot, based upon The Death of Socrates, 1787, by Jacques-Louis David
Dave has been drawing and painting most of my life. He was always encouraged by his family to explore his creativity however he could. His forays into art of the past armed only with the pop icons of the present began in 2010 when his wife returned home with a charity shop painting she'd bought for pennies on the pound. She urged him to paint "something funny" on it. Today Pollot (or his wife) continues to pick up art for pennies while selling it for as much as 500 GBP. He regularly showcases his latest work on his Instagram page, @DavePollotArt. He spent some 15 years writing software during the day and painting at night. Eventually Pollot decided to pick just one passion [painting] and go for it. Pollot notes, “There’s always a place for all art, and it’s interesting that we put an expiration date on some pieces, no longer seeing their value." Pollot grew up in the 80s and 90s. He tries to seamlessly combine pieces of abandoned or forgotten artwork with the elements of pop culture that he came to love, changing the meaning of both in an effort to make both relevant to new groups of people. His The Forfeit (above) is subtle yet the discovery of the "Number One" glove icon invites the viewer to explore the work for deeper contextual meanings.

Bleed, David Pollot
Not all of Pollot's cross-cultural anachronisms are as subtle as his tribute to Jacques-Louis David at the expense of our old friend, Socrates. Very often Pollot's anachronistic adventures with art, pop, and history smack the viewer up the side of the with all the subtlety of s bulldozer in a china shop. His Bleed (above) comes naturally to a Big Apple artists totally out of synch with pastoral way fares. The work is as jarring as it is humorous.

Space parodies, or perhaps, "Kirk's Worst Nightmare."
Pollot appears to have grown up with an infatuation with Star Trek, judging by the frequency with which the Enterprise recurs in his work (above). Or, perhaps, his favorite movie as a kid was Spielberg's Jaws (below). In seeing a Pollot reworking of an old master (not necessarily masterpieces), the first reaction is to laugh at the joke, then to marvel at the artist's daring, followed by a more serious search for some hidden meaning (if there is one).

Starboard Clean, David Pollot. Or, perhaps, "You're gonna need a bigger racing yacht."
Every artist has had a role model, whether they would admit it or not. David Pollot's artist inspiration stems from the (often deprecated) TV painter, Bob Ross and his "happy accidents" approach to painting. Pollot has paid tribute to Ross in a painting almost bursting with super hero adoration (below) shown in three stages of completion. It offers an interesting insight as to how Pollot both thinks and paints.


I often think that art these days may have become a little too serious. Pollot see his work as a "stepping back." Pollot urges us to lighten up, it's only art. It’s kind of nice to look at art and laugh. Pollot's work is meant to allow the viewer an escape, if only for the few moments, looking mischievously at some bit of pop culture inserted into something that might have hung in their grandmother’s house.

Officially untitled (as far as I could determine), but dozens of possibilities no doubt buzz around in a viewer's head.
Do the Disney "legal eagles" know about this?


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