If New York-based artist Rebecca Morgan wasn’t from the country herself, her unflattering portraits of “country bumpkins” could be deemed offensive. Her Neanderthal subjects are buck-toothed, hairy, wild, grotesque, inhuman – and positively terrifying. But there is a candour here, a humour that is fresh and inspiring from a young artist who grew up with the people she paints, and who still retains an affection for her fellow “bumpkins.”
Rebecca Morgan grew up in Pennsylvania, in the Appalachian Mountain region. Although she now lives in New York City, and is represented by the highly respected Asya Geisberg Gallery, she still identifies with her friends and strangers from the country, who she paints with a realism that is mixed with cartoonish embellishment. There is no doubt that no country bumpkin looks anything like a Rebecca Morgan portrait, but she has created humorous caricatures that emphasise and exaggerate the bumpkin’s stereotypical features.
From big teeth and blood-red gums, to “Grave Digger” t-shirts and triple chins, Morgan’s subjects are comically deformed, and frighteningly ugly. But there is irony here, and there is oodles of playful humour. From a chubby woman in curlers trying to light an illegal smoking device whilst exposing her hairy private parts, to a “hippy witch man” who looks as though he’s been frazzled by experimenting with one too many drugs, Morgan’s art is alive with intoxicating comedic timing that is too often missing from the stuffy world of contemporary art. [h/t dangerousminds.net]
Not that comedy is all Rebecca Morgan is good for. There is a social conscious at play here too, with her art touching on themes of poverty, addiction and madness. And before anyone even tries to question her talent, Morgan is more than just a run of the mill caricaturist; indeed, her naturalist, hyper-realism style has been compared to the Dutch masters, including Van Eyck. Morgan is also an adept sculptor, who uses this medium to create more stirring renditions of the bloated country bumpkin with big teeth and bulging eyeballs. It looks maddening, it looks scary, but it’s bloody brilliant.