Mark Ryden is more than a genius painter. Mark Ryden is a period in art. You have classicism, neo-classicism, impressionism, cubism, abstraction, surrealism, Mark Ryden, pop art, dadaism, and whatever else. That's how it is, friends.

Mark Ryden has this carefully crafted and balanced universe inside his mind, which he is currently mapping, painting by painting. He deftly mingles with themes of the beautifully macabre, the childish, the absurd, the grotesque and the fragile, in the same delicate way that a swiss maître horloger would craft the elaborate machinery of a miniature clock.

Each scene, each character he creates, is part of an odd story that one could never tell - yet a story nonetheless. When looking at his paintings, you cannot do anything but admire each of the incoporated elements: whether it's joy, fear, sadness, the stark austère pause of a bleeding child inside a 1800's portrait or a strange animal crying in a little girl's hand in a wistful countryside scene -- for a few minutes there, Mark Ryden owns you.

Here's an excerpt from Mark Ryden's website : "Upon first glance Ryden’s work seems to mirror the Surrealists’ fascination with the subconscious and collective memories. However, Ryden transcends the initial Surrealists’ strategies by consciously choosing subject matter loaded with cultural connotation. His dewy vixens, cuddly plush pets, alchemical symbols, religious emblems, primordial landscapes and slabs of meat challenge his audience not necessarily with their own oddity but with the introduction of their soothing cultural familiarity into unsettling circumstances. Viewers are initially drawn in by the comforting beauty of Ryden’s pop-culture references, then challenged by their circumstances, and finally transported to the artist’s final intent – a world where creatures speak from a place of childlike honesty about the state of mankind and our relationships with ourselves, each other and our past."

Mark Ryden has produced some album covers for the Red Hot Chili Peppers ("One Hot Minute") and Michael Jackson ("Dangerous"), and even has a theme CD, appropriate for the contemplation of his "blood" series, or something like that (Music For Mark Ryden's Blood, on Amazon).

If you want to buy a great book about Ryden, I recommend The Art Of Mark Ryden: Anima Mundi, available on Amazon.

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