Sunday, 26 February 2012

Len Bellinger

Presenting Len Bellinger a.k.a OCD LOTR

One of Len's hand altered/signed cards from The Art Hustle series one.

1. Questions (answer as many as you like, or talk about something else if the muse takes you)

Right off i'd like to thank you for inviting me to participate in this really fascinating idea for an exhibition...
your whole story about finally selling off your collection of comic books stored in your parents basement and then resurrect their iconic influence on your own development by
creating a book of drawings/collages from what was salvageable from the one soiled un-sellable box is the pure essence of what an artist really is... the pages posted from 'Flash Cosmic Savage' are both fascinating and revealing pieces that touch upon the intangible influence comics, from cover to cover, had on us all...

Getting a new comic when you were a young kid meant once you got done devouring every bit of visual information you could squeeze out of looking at that gloriously colored cover, then, you got enter a whole new universe where absolutely anything could happen, where logic was turned on it's head and only imagination itself ruled supreme...

Comics are really the precursor of a whole revolution in the arts that weaves its way from the caves of lascaux straight through the heart and cockiness of pure pop...
hockney and warhol pop.  The music revolution of the sixties mixing psychedelic color and hypnotic movement with a dash of surrealism added to the whole flavor of the time 
and has had a sustained influence on every generation that has followed. 

For this show I wanted to merge the kind of 'abstract/conceptual work' I've been creating for well over 35 years, with the whole comic book aesthetic...
and for me that meant one direction and one direction only...SUPERMAN !

...outside of doodling in every blank margin of my grade school textbooks, i was never really into art...wasn't even introduced to art on any level until i was in college...but i do recall 
attempting to draw dinosaurs on my own...especially 'the lizard king'  t-rex with a mouth wide enough it looked 3d when you peeked at that back row of gigantic teeth...that, along with an erupting volcano in the distance had me hooked on continually trying to get that deep far away perspective in those initial drawings as a youngster.

That same fascination with perspective had me make the inevitable move toward attempting lettering in basic one point perspective as well...and to learn that, there were no better examples out there to 
visually digest and learn from than the piles of SUPERMAN comics i had already begun to hoard...each new issue had that spectacular 3D logo emblazoned across each and every eye-popping cover...

...add the SUPERMAN television series with george reeves to the mix, that SUPERMAN logo flying across the screen in the same 3D perspective in your own living room,
and you've got the beginnings of a global phenomena...a super hero icon we all began to share...

...btw...a great read about the evolution of the superman comic and logo can be seen here... Dial B for Blog

For the past 10 years, one of the series of artworks I've returned to again and again is KKP's... work related to an ancient chinese painting titled 'the knick knack peddler' (Lin Sung) in which a small elderly peddler carries a tree-like display of his wares. 
What attracted me to this image initially was the tree-like lattice of horizontal and diagonal branches, each with a batch of knick-knacks (objects, toys, etc.) dangling in an ornamental flutter. 
Having worked with minimalist geometry for years, the knick knack peddler structure was the perfect vehicle for continued spatial exploration.
Current large scale paperworks and paintings, as well as objects, sculptures and installations, involve a similar aesthetic and each piece touches upon various specific conceptual concerns.

For 'Stripped', the knick-knack i wanted to dangle from these tree-like lattices, and flutter across the drawings' pop infused colorful atmosphere of pinks and yellows, 
was the extracted SUPERMAN logo itself...

...not the actual lettering...only the one point perspective 3D tops...each a different size, color and surface. 
...flip that logo on its side and interesting patterns and geometries play off of one another...
...faintly, some of the SUPERMAN lettering becomes recognizable (as negative space) but each dangling logo bears it's own unique profile and comic baffoonery, 
and you ultimately get lost in a sea of idiosyncratic shape and color...

The largest 'spm's' are culled from actual comic book covers...some pretty vintage ones at that...

The smaller ones from interior pages...they were particularly petite and quite impossible to cut as some of the pages were close to fifty years old and quite brittle.

There are between 55 and 64 extracted SUPERMAN logo tops on each of the 3 panels of the 'kkp.spm' triptych...some 175 cut logo tops in all.  
Mixed in that batch are 6 or 7 backwards logo tops...those of course coming from BIZARRO Superman issues.

'kkp.spm' is a three panel triptych that attempts to illustrate the delicate and delicious balance between the recognizable (the superman logo icon as negative space), and pure delirious abstraction... 
In addition, 9 postcard size pieces created for the show (' 1 thru 9') push the abstract element of the piece a little further and were created with vintage extracted logo tops 
over a 1/1 photoshopped archival print of a section of the original least one vintage logo is used on each postcard sized piece...additional postcard sized pieces are available...
(contact info available from either Jason Atomic or Orbital Gallery).

It was a really interesting journey making this always, one journey leads to another and so a few additional comic related pieces are in the works.
Hope to be able to show them somewhere soon, either here in the states or in the land of the shire.

 What kind of art do you usually do?

I've been exploring abstraction since the seventies experiencing two life altering years with a studio in PS1, one of the early alternative spaces here in nyc and now a wing of
New York's Museum of Modern Art (MOMA).  From repetitive ink drawings on raw canvas to large assemblage installations involving over 2,000 individual elements, my work
has always attempted to mediate material and image, and ultimately approach the meditative.  

Since 2006 i've also created almost a thousand sketch cards for blue-chip card companies like Topps and Breygent, as well as with smaller more underground art related sets like Card Hack's The Art Hustle, Sidekick Media and Suckadelic's SuckPax

I'm also an obsessive compulsive Lord of the Rings enthusiast and that obsession ultimately got me involved with making these small sketch card sized art both a contributing artist and avid collector.  I've worked on both Lord of the Rings Masterpieces sketch card sets as well as Star Wars 30th Anniversary, The Clone Wars, Galaxy 4, 5 and 6, Indiana Jones and the Showtime tv serial killer series, DEXTER...

In the last Star Wars Galaxy 6 set i decided to utilize all 84 sketch cards and die-cuts i had contracted with Topps to work on and create one single piece based on the stained glass windows of chartres cathedral. You can read about the making of chartreswars here

...someone would have one a hell of a time trying to put 'chartrestarwars' back together as each sketch was pack inserted by Topps and shipped to all corners of the globe.
Remarkably an australian collector has managed to acquire close to twenty of them with a US collector close behind with almost a dozen... i completely understand their obsession
as my own collection has climbed to over 2,000 of these mini-masterpieces...and i'm proud to say that includes 21 Jason Atomic pieces.

When did you first start reading comics?

my earliest memory is reading comics like archie, superman or metal man during lunch while in grade school, whatever age you are when your in the 4th or 5th grades here in the states.  I lived within walking distance of school and so was home every afternoon from 12 'til 1pm devouring my neatly prepared diagonally cut chicken sandwich on wonderbread along with a bevy of assorted comics. 


What is your most treasured comicbook?

As much as i love SUPERMAN, ARCHIE and so many other super hero comics, my Classic Illustrated MOBY DICK or TALE of TWO CITIES comics really put the zap on my mind set...

Do you consider yourself a fan of 'pop art' ?

I'm an enormous fan of what Pop Art was in it's heydey and even a bigger fan of how it has morphed and influenced each generation that has followed.
From tokyo pop to the underground toy culture low brow art that is exploding everywhere, the influence of Pop Art on television, the internet, commercial products, advertising, magazines, fact, I can't think of any other single period of art or style besides surrealism that has had such an impact on global society.

What is the best bit of a comic book for you (the characters, story, covers, paper stock, the smell etc..)?

For this 'kkp.spm' piece it's obviously the cover logo design and variety of color...but everything, from the kooky ads for x-ray glasses to the motion line explosions that seem to burst right off the page...every comic book is an experience unto itself, cover to cover...

Have you ever dressed up as a comic character?

no but i've always wanted a pair of superman underwear...  : )

No comments:

Post a Comment