RUDE BOYS: Christian Rex van Minnen
Brooklyn-based painter Christian Rex van Minnen is pushing the boundaries of portraiture with a psychedelic take on Renaissance imagery. At first glance, van Minnen’s work looks as though he took a classic painting fit for the Louvre, and defaced it, adding a bubbling wound on the portrait of a king or hiding cartoon googly eyes into the bouquet of a still life. No matter how strange or grotesque the scene, each work remains a juxtaposition of the hyperreal and the super surreal, creating stunning visualizations of what van Minnen terms “complex emotions in form and light.”
Van Minnen first began drawing on the back of church pews, inspired by the traditional surrealist work of Max Ernst, René Magritte, and Yves Tanguy. A love for contemporary sci-fi weirdness (“Aliens changed my life, and scared the hell out of me.”) drove him to his own personal aesthetic, though. His classical painting technique is precise and unwavering, but it is the bizarre elements in each piece that force the viewer to take a second look. As we lean in, the more current cultural influences begin to appear: a hidden message inside a seemingly picturesque flower arrangement reads Thug Life; a should-be high society portrait is riddled with heavily detailed facial tattoos.
“If you’re going to hang one of my paintings in your home, you are someone not afraid of your own shadow,” says the artist. But nevermind his shadow, van Minnen isn’t troubled by the startled reactions that accompany a viewing of one of his re-worked classics. In fact, it is this precise repugnance of the image that engages the eye and retains the viewer long enough for them to appreciate the hidden details. A fresh take on an old form, van Minnen’s work is brought to life by an exquisite dedication to craft and a deft sense of humor.
Rex’s WILD Wish: “I wish I could be transported to an edible blue-goo universe for a couple hours.”