Last night at Gallery 1988 it was hard to tell which there were more of: empty PBR cans or people. The turnout for Cardboard City artist Alex Pardee's all-ages opening, “Hiding from the Normals,” resembled that of a flashmob and the heat of bodies pressed up against art, up against more bodies, made the free beer (a.k.a. hipsters' delight) only more refreshing. Over the last decade, Pardee has developed a haunting and highly stylized painting technique that combines elements of horror, street art and hip hop culture into colorful works that twist and turn before your eyes, threatening to drip off the canvas and into your ears.
Earlier this year a new generation of young hip hop fans was introduced to Pardee's work when he teamed up again with friend Chris “Cage” Palko to design the Def Jux rapper's Depart From Me album artwork and its line of merchandise. The success of Cage's album, plus the “I Never Knew You” music video directed by actor Shia LaBeouf which Pardee had a cameo in, could easily explain the mass of young kids out on a school night for an art opening, but only Pardee's talent could explain why the mob stood for hours packed like veal waiting to meet the artist and score an autograph.
Pardee describes “Hiding from the Normals” as the “largest, most focused solo art show” he's ever created and, on his blog, shares some insight into the installation:
1. The entire show is based off of the beliefs of a man who recently went missing in real life. The man was a supposed crackpot and believes that there is another world living under ours filled with mutants. It is not known if this man is still alive or not.
2. In addition to creating paintings inspired by this missing man's beliefs, I have managed to get my hands on some actual evidence supporting the existence of this world. The evidence and some of his notes & sketches will be showcased alongside of the artwork.
5. This show is going to be my LAST solo show for over a year. I will be participating in a few group shows, but 2010 is going to be full of some different kind of adventures:) Stay tuned.
See photos from the opening below and also check out the video footage of Pardee breaking into LaBeouf's house to paint him a birthday mural: