Ohio based artist Alfred Steiner has an admittedly bizarre predilection for anatomical and fragmented parts since his childhood. His watercolor paintings of pop culture icons, logos, and cartoon characters use unseemly pieces to build an image. His work could be described as modern day Pop-Mannerism, a combination of Pop Art and Mannerist art, and brings to mind that of Italian painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo, who painted imaginative faces made of fruits and other objects. However, Steiner credits more surprising and eclectic inspirations, such as the fantastic imagery of Netherlandish painter Hieronymus Bosch and fictional characters like Homer Simpson.
In keeping with the theme of Bosch, Steiner’s works are a hybrid of the natural and unnatural, stylized forms. For example, his portrait of “Spongebob” (2012), uses various objects and food, like cheese, mushrooms, lime and honeycomb to create the impression of a recognizable image. Even in the process of creating such a simple character design, whose main shape is a square, Steiner follows a set of visual rules. On his process, he shares, “Once I find an object, I scour Google images for a suitable photographic model. If I cannot find one, I free-associate another object. Then I render the full image using these sources, which typically differ radically in terms of their clarity, resolution, contrast, saturation, etc. I use watercolor to both unite the disparate elements and to engage the tradition of naturalist illustration, keeping in mind that the underlying subjects are often wildlife… in these works, Audubon and Nickelodeon collide on the Infobahn.”