Pop artist DeVon hosted enough concerts at his Park City gallery during the Sundance Film Festival to know DJs now rival rock stars in becoming modern pop icons. Similar to the way DJs remix and blend well-known songs and verses, DeVon takes iconic images of celebrities and rearranges the perspective via silkscreen, paint, tiny crystal pieces and a host of other mediums.
“What I’m seeing with the DJ world today is the collaborative element. Among themselves they exchange ideas,” DeVon said. “I guess you could say I’m kind of a visual DJ.”
As he did with reworking images of historic pop icons like Elvis, Audrey Hepburn, Bridgett Bardot and Batman (these pieces are on display at Masters Gallery in Vail), DeVon recently cast a new light on current stars, doing portraits of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Avicci and Afrojack. DeVon visits the Masters Gallery today from 3 to 7 p.m. to exhibit some of his new work.
Several modern day celebrities are collectors of DeVon’s work and a few, like Mariah Carey, have made some interesting special requests.
“It turns out she actually owns Marilyn Monroe’s piano,” DeVon said of Carey. “We’ve been talking about doing a pop-art image of Marilyn playing that piano.”
It’s not just about redistributing a recognizable face or a famously captured pose. DeVon is constantly looking at images — both iconic and obscure — in a quest to find those that capture the characters’ persona in their purest essence of fame.
“What I do is interpret an image and ask myself what do I feel next after looking at it? I express those feelings in my pieces. I try to log into a feeling that resonates,” he explains. “It’s a language of the unconscious. I’m taking the next step after looking at an image and asking why is it pop culture? Why does it resonate with so many people?”
‘Modern day Vitruvian Man’
Although DeVon is a great admirer of Andy Warhol and both artists use a base of silkscreen and have similar subjects, their approach and overarching themes are quite different.
“Warhol would take bland things and put them up as a movement,” DeVon said. “Warhol did Superman in a simple way. I like to bring collage in. I borrow an image of say, Batman. Then I borrow Leonardo Davinci’s Vitruvian Man. I’ve got Batman centered in a circle and square. It’s a modern day Vitruvian Man.”
With the combination of paint, collage, digital solvents, sparkle paint and even comic book and magazine pages, DeVon’s layers of medium add to the layers of his unique perspective.
“It’s like when people used to walk into cathedrals,” he said. “They would see an iconic image and on the surface you could get the narrative but beyond that you could see the story and trails and layer. I go into a kind of trance where I create a bridge between my conscious and unconscious. It’s funny because if you just trust yourself, those images and that perspective will be natural to you.”