Creative Cauldron - Joe Sorren

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Artist inspiration and artist influences. No biographies, dates or scholarly research here - this is a personal response to the work of Joe Sorren by Australian artist Fiona Morgan.

Feather Shirt and Branches - Joe Sorren painting
Feather Shirt and Branches

Joe Sorren is a US based artist actually only a few years older than me, but who has a head start in painting by, oh, 20 years or something. I've admired his work for a number years on a number of different points, which I'll get to shortly.

Auld Lang Syne - Joe Sorren painting
Auld Lang Syne

But first I want to mention lowbrow art and pop surrealism. If you've come across either Juxtapoz or Hi-Fructose magazine, you'll know what I'm referring to. This lowbrow genre of contemporary art is their specialty. It's very influenced by pop and street culture. Go check it out. From Wikipedia, "lowbrow art describes an underground visual art movement that arose in the Los Angeles, California, area in the late 1970s. Lowbrow is a widespread populist art movement with origins in the underground comix world, punk music, hot-rod street culture, and other subcultures."

Because of Toast - Joe Sorren painting
Because of Toast

Pop surrealism is related to lowbrow, but separate from it.  While obviously taking some influence from surrealism and the idea of dreamscapes and the unconscious, pop surrealism seems somehow more accessible to me. More endearing. Often sweet with a dash of the creepies. The mood seems to tend to be ethereal. Perhaps I find it attractive because the style is from artists my own age with similar backgrounds.

The Mushroom Hunter - Joe Sorren painting
The Mushroom Hunter

So the diversion into talking about these style is to put a little bit of context around Joe Sorren's work. His art often considered to be in the pop surrealism genre, but, but, but, at the same time he is often considered to have a one-of-a-kind style. This may be due to the fact that he doesn't take much notice of the art world around him. Something I quite admire.

How does he work then? "I usually enter a painting with no ideas, and just begin applying paint to see what arrives. I find art to be most engaging when I am surprising myself. As long as I stay open for whatever to arrive, anything can show up for dinner." Thanks SpearTalks for the interview quote. Sounds like the unconscious at work to me, which is one way that I too enjoy working.

Lilley Anne and the Fish Parade - Joe Sorren painting
Lilley Anne and the Fish Parade
And what else do I see in these artworks? On a technical note, I love his colour and brushwork. Even if the scenes weren't as interesting as they are, there is so much going on to be mesmerised by for someone who loves texture and colour. Oh, have you noticed the luminosity? Good grief I want to learn how to do that!

Of course there is the crazy wee characters. Unique and enjoyable. However the final element I enjoy in Joe Sorren's art is the sense of slowed time. To me, each painting just quietly holds an intimate internal moment. There's no shouting or easy explanations, just a mood to imbibe.

Cats in Space - Joe Sorren painting
Cats in Space


More Joe Sorren links

If you like the pix you see here, I highly recommend getting this book on Joe Sorren's art:
It's a few years old now, but it's one of my personal favourites on the art shelf.

Official site:

About the Creative Cauldron series of posts

Creative Cauldron - artistic influences & inspiration for Australian artist Fiona MorganThe Creative Cauldron series of posts explores and showcases the visual styles, techniques, attitudes, ideas, artists and paintings that have had the most impact on me. 

The rest of the series is accessible via the Creative Cauldron page. Have a meander if you please, and remember to check out my artworks on Flickr, and have an insider peek at life as an artist on Facebook.

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