Okay, imagine you’re a sorcerer with a massive magic cauldron in front of you, and you’ve been tasked with creating today’s artist.
You know they’re surrealist, so you throw in a big chunk of Salvador Dali, but they’re absurdist too, so you want to add a bit of Magriette, Cheval and the writing of Lewis Carroll. You want people to take this art seriously though, so you anchor it with a good dose of Flemish still life and Renaissance portraiture.
At this point you’d probably stand back and take a look to see how it’s going, then decide that the subject matter could be getting a little heavy. Mix in some of Henri Rousseau’s naive figures and, for a bit of circus fun, the cartoonish delight of British painter Beryl Cook’s ‘fat ladies’. Don’t let it get too cartoonish though. You’ll need to ladle in a hearty serve of Hieronymus Bosch to show you mean business.
Now, if you’re still with me, take that big cauldron of artistic goodness, and pour it over a copy of the children’s book Animalia by Graeme Base. If you’ve followed the spell exactly, what should result is the work of my latest art crush, Ukrainian-born, New Jersey-based, Ilya Zomb.
Zomb’s work makes my heart sing. It’s pure fantasy, but with a sensitive humanity. It’s Mary Poppins and Alice in Wonderland, but it’s also very much Roald Dahl and the scarier lands of the Magic Faraway Tree. It’s adult themes and childish imagination.
It’s…oh, bugger it – have a look for yourself!