What does it mean to be “normal”? Normality is different to different people, generally applying to what is considered acceptable and not out of the ordinary. To Los Angeles based artist Wyatt Mills, the idea of being “normal” has a broad meaning that he addresses in his latest series of chaotic mixed media paintings. Mills is an artist that likes to make observations about the human psyche, relating his work to a reflection of his reality which is never one thing and switches between different styles.
His work depicts abstract and somewhat grotesque images of the human figure in a variety of media, primarily oil paint and collages using spray paint, magazine and newspaper clippings. Previous works have often addressed societal stereotypes, as in Mills’ 2014 exhibition “Archetype to Stereotype”, where he explored how ancient icons have popped up in today’s society and the impact that their modern incarnations make upon the culture as a whole. In that show, his work contemplated if the need to be beautiful, powerful, perfect, and wealthy is built into our genetics.
With his current exhibition, “Normal”, Mills drives this concept into slightly darker subject matter, rendering his subjects with chaotic, visceral brush strokes that challenge our perceptions of what is beautiful and normal. In one painting, Mills gives the classical, “normal” interpretation of the nude a monstrous expression, where a beautiful woman on a couch greets her viewer with a disturbing, toothy grin. Other works are less specific, playing with figuration and abstraction in colorful portraits that seem to reveal whatever the subject was thinking or feeling as it spills out of their heads. “I don’t think I’m alone in sensing that something is off in the world we live in,” he says. “I think there’s a growing amount of people who feel as though we are coping with our reality while harboring fantasies of some alternate world. It is as if we are strictly tolerating existence. I know we have pills for this feeling now, but I still like to include this conflicted atmosphere in my paintings.”
Take a look at more works from Wyatt Mills’ Normal” below, on view now at Project Gallery in Los Angeles through March 6th, 2016.