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I imagine a world where the visually rich language of fairy tales and nursery rhymes extends into adulthood. The traditional nature of this kind storytelling is best presented with visual aids; simple, straightforward text accompanied by fantastic illustrations. In our culture, this is a conventional part of our collective upbringing and experience. These stories often convey lessons, which are coded in familiar, symbolic language, and are likely where we first encounter metaphor and allegory.
We carry these symbolic codes into adulthood—like wolf equals bad, pig equals good. The narratives I deliver in my paintings utilize this common trove of visual references; however with more mature and timely messages.
The intertwined relationship between language and image has always guided me in constructing my artwork—using visual puns, symbolic themes and literal translations from words into paintings. Often the compositions and assemblies of characters seem to clash in a surreal incongruence, but on some level, they relate by a verbal association or some idiomatic commonality. My aim is to exploit these visual conventions and present something visually arousing with dynamic color and compelling content.
The level of “payoff” sophistication that the viewer “gets” from the paintings is relative to their own personal experience and history. There may be universal themes revealed, and there may be idiosyncratic dead ends. There is no correct reading of the images other than what the viewer extracts on their own. Even my opinion and the depth of what they mean to me may change from day to day.
Stephen Gibb lives and works in the small town of Amherstburg, in southern Ontario, Canada and maintains a second studio in Windsor. He earned a B.F.A. in visual arts from the University of Windsor and is currently represented by the St. Germain gallery in Toronto. Among the cities he has exhibited in are San Diego, Sacramento, and Hollywood— the hotbed of California’s Lowbrow and Pop Surrealism community. His work is collected around the globe and has gained widening interest since working on the album art for hip hop artist Trippie Redd.