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Zap, rip and slash,
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This review is from: Surf Graphics (Hardcover)
Zap, rip and slash, slide through tumultuous barrels, across tropical aquaria. This latest volume in the Kustom Graphics series turns to the aesthetic explosion that was and is surfing graphic art. 250 gorgeously produced pages of stunning, mind blowing surf art, that practically leaps off the page in a phantasmagoria of rich colour and swirling composition. In fact I'm quite favourably disposed towards this book.
The volume is composed of a collation of selected works of 40 odd graphic surf artists spanning for instance the Frankinstieniana of Damian Fulton, cartoon tales of Pat Grant, toned hula babes and tube monsters of Chuck Majewski, dream colour schemas of Al Mcwhite, intricately realized immaculate worlds of Rick Rietveld, and the Tiki kitch troppo fun of Brad Parker and Thor (the Disneyland ride designer). Even though by it's very nature such artwork has an immediate appeal, I'm finding that the more I look through the book the more I like it. Personally I find the cover picture, `Hand Wave' by doyen of kustom art, Jim Phillips, although striking, one of the least appealing works in the volume, there is so much terrific material inside.
The authors have succeeded in drawing together a wealth of diverse material, which somehow goes beyond the shared subject matter, to unfold like variations upon an aesthetic theme. Further pervading threads include 60s pop art, skulls, ghouls and zombies, and those tight juxtapositions of towering beach breaks and dysfunctional cityscapes. Such urban dystopias are probably closer to many surfers experience today, than the spacious tropicalias that dominate so much of the more customary surf art.
For me personally it's wonderful to see once again the surf art nouveau of Bill Ogden (of `Forgotten Island of Santosha' fame) and the unmistakable swirling, flaming sundrenched wave and beach scapes of Drew Brophy, that reach back to my childhood. Such works nostalgically tug at faintly recalled teen intimations of dreamed paradises, which went hand-in-hand with later years of the search for the perfect wave. Although surf art is part of the cerebral, encultured and reflective dream of surfing, these works are so visceral that they seem to connect with the energies of our direct experience of waves.
For each artist, there is a short, and highly informative, paragraph that touches upon their biography and influences. Many of the artists highlight the influence of Rick Griffin, whose works are not actually in this collation. However such an omission was probably warranted as examples of his work can be found in practically everything published on surfing, and there are also some excellent monographs on his work, such as `Rick Griffin' by McClelland (2002). It would also have been useful if the dates had accompanied each artwork, as what is striking is the enormous stylistic continuity over 50 years in what is now a clearly identifiable art genre. Maybe the book could have benefited from a further essay (other than the excellent short introduction by Jim Phillips) on the cultural analysis of this genre. However these are minor quibbles, my thanks to the compiler, Yahya El-Droubie, and author, Ian Parliament, for putting together this stunning book.
The Art of Rick Griffin