Thinkspace is pleased to present Project Mayhem, featuring new work by Dave MacDowell. The artist’s work deftly combines satire, irreverence, and seething wit. A self-taught artist, MacDowell combines popular cultural references with the magnetism of the “dark hook”, creating unexpected plays on popular culture that inject the familiar with blistering hyperboles. Seeking to unveil the feared and the reviled, while expertly weaving critical commentary with hilarity, MacDowell’s work is an effective combination of complicity and critique. Appropriately in keeping with the movement, MacDowell’s pieces combine a pop surrealist aesthetic with deliberately recognizable popular cultural references gleaned from movies, cartoons, and music, among others, and transforms the known into powerful generational odes to discontent and dystopian irony. His work combines humor with criticism and an acerbic wit, unearthing the nightmares that lurk just beneath the veneer of celebrity culture and the cult of Disney. His work fearlessly taunts the obsequiousness of popular culture, and its iconographies, by creating unexpected inversions and re-combinations that gently tug at its unraveling strings.
MacDowell’s technical execution is highly detailed and seductive, contributing to the hallucinatory pleasure and draw of the work. In keeping with the tendency of the genre, the more highly refined the execution, the more effective the irreverence of the content, and this certainly is the case with MacDowell’s paintings.The work is at times controversial and unsettling, but seems to combine contention and dissent with pleasure and whimsy. Highly accomplished at figuration and color, the artist’s work effectively conveys the vision of its hyperreality. The technicolor nightmares MacDowell offers up are at times so densely populated with imagery that they feel bottomless, like the contemporary equivalent of a Hieronymus Bosch Medieval nightmare, and at other times are sparse and perfectly simple. Each piece imparts the suggestion of narrative, and reveals a story or core idea, however obliquely, that has motivated its juxtapositions and hooks. Disturbing, lascivious, and funny, each work is acuminate in its own abrupt revelations.