The meeting of pop art and street art was an inevitable one. Fun and glossy references to popular culture that everybody – even people who think contemporary art is all ideas and no talent – can relate to benefit so much from the grit of edgy and loose street art. It’s the kind of match made in heaven likely to be both critically interesting and to look great on your wall. Sadly, after Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and James Rosenquist made it big, popular and glossy some decades ago, few artists have dared to appropriate any variation on pop art.
Thankfully, Greg Miller has no such qualms. In fact, he has drawn such personal influence from both genres that his work can stand up to any claims that it might be derivative or easy. With the solo show Happy Endings, Scream gallery spotted his talent that, although long recognized in his native California, has remained under the radar in the UK. If you happen to wander down Bruton Street, chances are you have already noticed the Phantom Lady, the large scale hybrid of painting and collage, gracing the window. In this rather staid area of London, the alert expression depicted on the face of the overtly sexy super-heroine of yore stands out to say the least.
Hopefully, that work should be intriguing enough to impel you to walk past the threshold of the gallery where more large scaled hybrids of collage and acrylic on panel await you. They are extraordinary objects that should be seen up close.
Indeed, you would think that the layering of collaged newspaper cuttings and adverts topped with the dribbles of graffiti and stencils would result in a lot of texture. Yet, one of the signature touches in Miller’s work is his use of varnish. By layering a thick, even coat of resin on the surface of his works, Miller creates an incredibly slick finish that defies all the expectations created by the style, the approach and the subject matter. This cleverly reasserts the focus on flat surfaces mastered by pop artists. Only 7Up has some surface texture but it’s no less glossy, it only mimics the rectangular outlines that mimic a brick wall. His extreme attention to details doesn’t stop there as the sides of all his panels are lined with collaged newspaper. Miller’s ownership of both pop and street style lies in these very details.
But let’s not forget his works are first and foremost pure eye candy. With titles like Boom, Wow, Ok, Lick and Cool, they are easy on the eyes and replete with references to your favourite childhood comics and junk foods. Go see it because the works will make you smile and, while you’re there, why not admire the craftsmanship?
(Happy ending is on until Oct 1st @ Scream Gallery, 34 Bruton Street – London. Images by Scream)