‘Brandon Bird’s Astonishing World of Art’ revels in surreal pop culture mash-ups
The work of Los Angeles-based artist Brandon Bird can be loosely summarized as “one thing from pop culture intersecting with another, completely unrelated, thing from pop culture.” Thus a painting depicting a doleful Sam Waterston playing with Transformers, or a drawing of a Care Bear with Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans director Werner Herzog as its tummy symbol.
Yes, pop-culture mash-ups may not exactly be novel at this point — they’re everywhere from Tumblr and to unlicensed T-shirts — but it takes a special kind of thinker to insert Steven Seagal onto the cover of X-Men #4. And that’s showcased in Brandon Bird’s Astonishing World of Art, a celebration of the artist’s sensibilities in the guise of an old-school coloring book (keeping with the motif, it’s mostly black and white). Out now from Chronicle Books, there are stickers, postcards, full-color reproductions of Bird’s paintings and a couple of ridiculously complex paint-by-number pages. Bird’s knack for likenesses help sell the jokes — a painting of Christopher Walken building Optimus Prime works much better when it’s rendered as realistically as possible.
As Bird fans have come to expect, there’s also a lot of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit material, including valentines featuring Ice-T and the gang. The Dick Wolf franchise has long been a source of inspiration for the artist, who curated a Law & Order-inspired exhibition back in 2010.