“I think people just like to see things destroyed. We love to watch the mighty fall. It’s why we have so many tabloid newspapers. My work uses very recognisable pop culture icons at the core- which provides the ‘mighty,’ and I provide the fall.”
- Matt Gondek
The breaking down of our childhood, the disenchantment with adult life. These are some of the things Deconstructive Pop Artist Matt Gondek cites as inspiration for his unmistakable style. Bright, loud colours are Gondek’s weapons against his pop culture characters. Through his work, you can witness a darker side to the characters you know and love- Disney and anime characters placed in an Itchy and Scratchy universe; throwing punches or ultimately blown apart by a cartoon TNT. In 2019, his works took a slighter darker approach, he brought the colour palette down a half step and abstracted the well-known figures further. This gave them a distinctly ‘Gondek’ vibe, and they were no longer the Saturday morning cartoons you grew up with.
But Gondek doesn’t believe his work to be an attack on nostalgia, he’s simply using characters he’s comfortable with. In an interview on his podcast ‘Clean Break', Gondek relates the prevalence of using pop culture imagery in contemporary art to the widespread iconography of the Renaissance. The Renaissance was well known for using the same figures throughout the period- whether that be religious figures or figures associated with ancient history. Critics argue that contemporary art doesn't have the same meaning as in previous generations. But this generation didn’t have a war to fight in, or a sudden rise in capitalist culture- they had video games and comic books.
Gondek’s painting format might look familiar and it’s because he’s drawing on the stylistic elements of comics. Inspired by one of the most famous Pop artists, Roy Lichtenstein, he repurposes the panel structure, word balloons and dynamic movement into the fine art world. This created a widespread debate in the 60s when it was first elevated to high art status.
🐰 Matt Gondek, Nervous in the Alley, (2020), acrylic on canvas, 30x40 inches.