Modern Day Artist Appreciation: Camille Rose Garcia

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Camille Rose Garcia is an artist whose work is easily recognizable, though few may attribute it to her name. Within pop surrealist circles, she’s an often mentioned figure due to her distinctive look. Having bright colors, crooked necks, and vintage charm in her itinerary, Garcia has developed a trademarked style that appeals to both young and old, docile and rebellious, conventional and experimentalist. Online art resource Wow X Wow describes how “the multi-layered socio-political narratives found within the kaleidoscopic psychedelia of Camille Rose Garcia’s paintings, arrive as subtle and effective triggers to our subconscious minds, initiating our unconscious processing of issues and events concerning these most troubling of contemporary times.” 

credit: Kohn Gallery

She’s been an outrageous success on many levels, bearing not only a strong mark on pop surrealism but on contemporary art as a whole. Online modern art magazine WideWalls describes Garcia’s lengthy successes, stating “The artist’s paintings have been featured in the most renowned magazines such as Juxtapoz, Rolling Stone, and Modern Painter, and they can be also found in the collections of the Los Angeles County Museum and the San Jose Museum of Art. Because of the great reputation and popularity of Garcia’s pieces, in 2007 the San Jose Museum of Art held a retrospective of her entire body of work, called The Tragic Kingdom.” 

The conflicting nature of Garcia’s audience may be a result of the equally conflicting nature of her upbringing and influences. In 1970, she was born in Los Angeles, California to a Mexican activist filmmaker father and a muralist/painter mother. She spent her upbringing in Orange County, regularly going to peaceful, compliant, and censored Disneyland with her family and attending raucous, defiant, crass punk shows with the other “disenchanted youth of the era”. 

credit: artsy.net

The influence of both Disney and Fleischer cartoons is clear in Garcia’s work, due to the contorted figures, glossy hair, and heavy lashes of her characters. She also tends to center her artwork on fairy tales, such as Alice in Wonderland. However, we can equally see the rebellious aspects to her creations as well. WideWalls describes how Garcia “is also inserting surreal and bizarre elements in her pieces, influenced by the writers of the beat generation, most notably William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. Beat generation writers are known for their exploration of American and Eastern religions, honest portrayals of the human condition, and experimentation with various drugs.” 

Furthermore, music as a whole has deeply affected her output. Garcia described how she has “always approached art making in the same way as a lot of [her] favorite bands. Bands like The Clash and the Dead Kennedys make this really rad music, that in some cases sounds really fun, but still has a social commentary.” This mix of sensory appeal and ethical depth is evidenced by many of her pieces, such as one of her paintings called The Pain Collector. WideWalls describe the creation as “depicting the idea of painless, perfectly sedated society, often mentioned in dystopian movies and literature.” 

credit: medium

Garcia’s education in the arts comes not only from her upbringing, which involved her painting murals alongside her mother even as a young teenager. She also has an extensive academic education as well, attending Otis College of Art and Design in 1992 to attain her BFA before moving onto University of California at Davis in 1994. The whole process took six long years, leaving Garcia feeling burnt out and creatively muddled. She described how “too much intellectualism about art while you are making it can make you self-conscious and unable to create at all. It is the death of instinct.” The ultimate cure for this conundrum was giving up on art all together and forming a band called The Real Minx. She stuck with them for a few years, allowing creativity to slowly creep back in. Eventually, she regained her spirit, allowing her to produce the art that’s been impacting thousands of people to this very day.

Sources

WideWalls, Camille Rose Garcia

Camille Rose Garcia Store, About Me

Wow x Wow, Camille Rose Garcia – The Ballrooms of Mars – Artist Interview