Narcissus, or the modern image myth
In a society that looks at and measures itself through instantaneous and fleeting images, Marion Peck stands in reaction to all of this. Her paintings and drawings are very slow to execute, the oil painting requiring a long time; neither large to impress the visitor; neither obvious to understand at first glance.
The artist invites us to take a closer look at the swamps fueled for centuries by the myth of Narcissus. Nowadays these waters are no longer so beautiful, and the reflection offered is far from being as faithful as a mirror could produce. The only point in common with the story told by Ovid, is that our society as a whole plunges, gets lost, in these distorted images. Society drowns in these waters without taking the time to appreciate anything other than its sublimated representations.
Through her paintings, which subjects come subconsciously to the artist’s mind, Marion Peck is part of a surrealist tradition, filled with mythological references, building contemporary legends. Nothing speaks louder than these creatures with exaggerated body shapes, monstrous products of modern times. Marion Peck’s practice also deals with the unconscious, buried dreams and nightmares that rise to the surface.
Like theatrical pictures, these works shine by their accuracy in observing the paradoxes surrounding us. In a world and a culture tending towards a standardization of emotions and representations, Marion Peck presses by subtle touches, where it hurts, exactly where the human flaws and weaknesses are placed. Surrealist in her painting style, Marion Peck’s work is nonetheless emotionally realistic.
Admiring the work of Marion Peck, figurehead of Pop Surrealism in the United States, is like taking a stroll in a dark and whimsical universe, a bizarre fairyland where forest animals, grotesque creatures and melancholic children coexist. Sometimes called with a tinge of irony Lowbrow Art, Pop Surrealism is a pictorial movement that emerged in the late 1970s in California, of which Marion Peck and her husband, American artist Mark Ryden, happen to be the main figures today.
As often with artists of this movement, the work of Peck recalls the fantasies of Alice in Wonderland. However, her inspirations reach far beyond Lewis Carroll's iconic novel. Her work converses with famous paintings from the Renaissance. Likewise her technique, perfectly controlled, stems from the heritage of the Old Masters.
With subtlety and originality, Marion Peck excels at weaving together pictorial tradition and contemporaneity. For indeed her paintings reflect back on us, our cultural norms, our entertainment industry. They hint at this world of appearances popularized by the media which we all know too well. The artist subverts the codes that we sometimes associate with the “Disney magic” to portray characters that seem fragile, worried, ill at ease in their lopsided and disproportionate bodies, calling from the viewer an emotional or affective response. Without realizing it, we end up feeling attached to these strange beings that inhabit the eccentric universe of Marion Peck.
Marion Peck was born in 1963 in Manila, the Philippines, while her family was on a trip, and grew up in Seattle. In 1985 she graduated from Rhode Island School of Design, then studied Fine Arts at Syracuse University in New York and Temple University in Rome. In the 90s, she started exhibiting in galleries across the United States, then internationally. In France, it was Magda Danysz who first acknowledged her talent and began to show her work in Paris from 2005. Marion Peck now lives in Portland, USA.