Mark Ryden: The Art of Whipped Cream

Paul Kasmin Gallery presents three simultaneous projects celebrating the work of formative pop-surrealist, Mark Ryden, this March 2018 in Hong Kong. Following its enormous success in the United States, Whipped Cream – a collaboration between Ryden and the American Ballet Theatre that balances high art, fantasy and ballet – will premiere at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre during the Hong Kong Arts Festival 2018.

Alongside the performances, Mark Ryden has created Dodecahedron – Quintessence 132, a sculpture that carries the central eye motif from the Whipped Cream stage into the public realm. The work will be installed in the Cultural Centre throughout the duration of the ballet performances and then will move to go on public display at PMQ from March 26th to April 4th, during Art Basel Hong Kong, where audiences can interact with and experience a taste of the fantastically fairy-tale-like world of the artist’s imagination.

At this exciting moment of celebration of the diversity of Ryden’s practice, Paul Kasmin Gallery will present a solo exhibition of approximately 16 works by the artist in the Kabinett section of Art Basel Hong Kong, 2018.

American Ballet Theatre, Whipped Cream, photo by Gene Schiavone
American Ballet Theatre, Whipped Cream, photo by Gene Schiavone

Whipped Cream
The American Ballet Theatre’s Hong Kong premier of Whipped Cream will be performed over the final week of the Hong Kong Arts Festival at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre (Thursday, March 22 – Sunday, March 25). Featuring choreography by Alexei Ratmansky, former artistic director of Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet, with the original 20th-Century score by Richard Strauss, the Ballet’s characters are brought to life through the staging and costumes designed by Mark Ryden. The whimsical costumes, elaborate set designs, and creative props all retain the artist’s meticulous attention to detail and intricate craftsmanship as seen throughout his artistic oeuvre.

Originally titled Schlagobers, the Austrian word for whipped cream, the production adapts a rediscovered Richard Strauss ballet from 1924 that centers on a boy who, after overindulging on treats at a pastry shop, falls into a state of delirium in which his sugary confections come alive. Situated in the realm of Princess Tea Flower and Princess Praline, Ryden further delves into the darker undercurrents of sweetness, examining the intoxicating effects of excess.

Mark Ryden for Ballet Whipped Cream
Mark Ryden for Ballet Whipped Cream

Dodecahedron – Quintessence 132
Dodecahedron – Quintessence 132 is a new sculptural work that continues Mark Ryden’s exploration of the Dodecahedron as a unique geometric form with significant mathematical and philosophical resonance. The Dodecahedron belongs to a small group of five geometric solids that share a simple set of parameters: the same polygon on every face, and the same number of faces at each vertex.

Following its installation at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre during the Hong Kong premier of Whipped Cream, the sculpture will be on public display from March 26th to April 4th at PMQ in Central Hong Kong. Dodecahedron – Quintessence 132 includes an array of brightly-colored icons, figures, and symbols on each of the pentagonal panels that form the solid. These symbols are dominated by the “all seeing eye”, a recurring motif in the work of the artist.

Art Basel Hong Kong
Mark Ryden’s works will be displayed in the Kabinett section of Art Basel Hong Kong 2018, a separately curated, delineated space, acting as a part of the gallery’s main art fair booth (3D18). This annexed section brings together the aesthetic and playful atmosphere of Whipped Cream with bespoke walls.

The works presented in the Kabinett section (approximately 16 in total) feature characters from Whipped Cream and include both preparatory drawings and new paintings of varying size. A small-scale edition of the Dodecahedron sculpture will sit at the center of the space, available as an edition of 6 + 3 AP. The enigmatic figures depicted in paintings such as Swirl Girl (#130) and Whipped Cream Girl (#131) offer a continuation of the artist’s unique perspective on the beauty of childhood innocence presented amid an underlying sense of disquiet.

American Ballet Theatre, Whipped Cream, photo by Gene Schiavone.
American Ballet Theatre, Whipped Cream, photo by Gene Schiavone.

About the Artist: blending themes of pop culture with techniques reminiscent of the old masters, Mark Ryden has created a singular style that blurs the traditional boundaries between high and low art. His work first garnered attention in the 1990s when he ushered in a new genre of painting, “Pop-Surrealism,” dragging a host of followers in his wake. Mark Ryden received a BFA in 1987 from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. His paintings have been exhibited in museums and galleries worldwide, including a career-spanning retrospective “Cámara de las maravillas” at The Centro de Arte Contemporáneo of Málaga, as well as an earlier retrospective “Wondertoonel” at the Frye Museum of Art in Seattle and Pasadena Museum of California Art.

Mark Ryden for Ballet Whipped Cream
Mark Ryden for Ballet Whipped Cream

About Paul Kasmin Gallery: founded in SoHo in 1989, Paul Kasmin Gallery cultivates a program in which the historic figures of Post-War and American Modernism are in meaningful dialogue with the evolving practice of both emerging and established contemporary artists. The gallery represents and advocates for the legacy of such estates as Constantin Brancusi, William N. Copley, Max Ernst, Simon Hantaï, Jane Freilicher and Robert Motherwell. It has developed the careers of and continues to represent significant contemporary artists such as Walton Ford, Robert Indiana, Iván Navarro, Les Lalanne and Roxy Paine.

Hong Kong Arts Festival
Feb 23 – March 24 2018
Whipped Cream
March 22 – March 25, 2018 – 7:30 PM
Hong Kong Cultural Centre, 10 Salisbury Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui
Hong Kong
March 26 – April 4, 2018
No.35 Aberdeen Street, Central, Hong Kong
Art Basel Hong Kong
Paul Kasmin Booth 3D18
March 28 – Vernissage – March 31
1 Expo Dr
Wan Chai