For his fourth solo exhibition here, “Beyond the Pink,” street artist Buff Monster renders his colorful cast of amorphous characters in tie-dye camouflage. Alternately sporting fangs or dimples in lieu of mouths, he places them in meticulous 2D patterned landscapes that allude to analogue video game technology, and accessorizes his creatures with the symbol of Satan. The arsenal of subjects employed in the works are nether worldly creations inspired by Japanese design. An outright spermatozoa transforms the squeaky clean Scrubbing Bubbles characters into curious and mal-intentioned creatures. Several pieces bear Japanese typography or text referred to as “Buff Monsterisms” such as “Like it up,” “Take Me to the Lollipop Land,” and “Extra Creamy.” The tongue-in-cheek verbiage riffs on the suspicious waves of liquid that ooze out of the creature's bodies; curious sexual innuendos are masked by the cute and overwhelmingly pink creations.
The world of Buff Monster is as uninhibited as the name he has assigned himself. Whether brought to us in the gallery space or on the streets of Los Angeles, in his world forget-me-not creatures live in a world of fantasy, with landscape features that are origami on acid. Just as the artist cites that happiness is present in all that he creates, it’s hard to resist the alternate universe he has created wholly separate from the constraints of a “proper” and “distinguished” art world.
Beginning his career as a street artist armed with thousands of hand silk-screened posters and a wheat paste brush, Buff Monster left his mark on city streets with quasi-adorable creatures with an “x” for each eye. Now Buff Monster designs collectible toys that bring a new life to the characters depicted on his panels with acrylic. The world of fantasy exists three dimensionally through his toy collection, and explodes out of the flattened panel pieces displayed in the gallery. In “Beyond the Pink” the artist plays with the dimensionality of his whimsical subjects and purposefully paints them on birch wood panels that reinforce their flatness. The works are a collage of fantastical landscapes where molten mountains are flooded by a frothy sea of pink matter that are home to frolicking and giddy creatures with an appendage like a unicorn, and mischievous one-eyed faces reminiscent of Sponge Bob Square Pants.
In addition to the works on panel, Buff Monster also displays a series of flattened metal spray paint cans that each bear familiar creatures. While it is easy to become overwhelmed by the vibrancy, playfulness, and surface quality of Buff Monster’s infusion of Japanese culture and the color pink, “Beyond the Pink” marks an advance in the artist’s methodology and practice. The images he creates are inherently flat and thus can easily adapt their placement on the sides of buildings, telephone poles, newspaper dispenser and sidewalks. The flattened spray cans serve as a bridge connecting the past as a street artist and the present as a fine artist. While the works in the gallery are purposefully flat, they are manipulated so that the characters appear to be breaking out of the wood into their own dimension, as surreal as the world they inhabit.
Published courtesy of ArtSceneCal ©2010