By Carolina Arán
We all were kids one day, and the Lowbrow illustration knows what to do so we don’t forget it. Lowbrow art gives us the key to the doors to worlds that we thought were forgotten and lost, it surprises us with an urgent nostalgia for super heroes stories and fairy tales that leaves us, moved and comforted, in a tender and childish scene, covered in dust by the passage of time.
It’s in this power to transport us to our childhood where one of the secrets to this artistic style touches our hearts so deeply is hidden. Society doesn’t expect us adults to read children’s stories, watch cartoons or collect toys, but this return to childhood has now become a mass phenomenon: we all want to shake off the boredom of being older and reconnecting with our lost childhood.
Lowbrow illustration supposes an emotional touch, full of imagination, feeling and enthusiasm, but also a dry slap of nostalgia, acid and revolting. It brings us the lights and shadows of that early universe, with its princess and its boogeyman, with its clay figures and its midnight nightmares; it brings us closer to the sentimental thing but it keeps us away from the mawkishness. This union of clear and dark concepts knocks down the wall that separates what we were from who we are, turning our inner space into a sacred and decadent place, intimate but universal, where our joys and fears are mixed, as if a David Lynch film were incorporated into a children’s tale.
Once that wall’s down, we don’t want to raise a single brick anymore. We make our way through the rubble and delve into the depth, letting ourselves go without resistance. It’s impossible for us not to surrender to that feeling of reconnection, recovery and refuge that invites us to unlearn, to continue growing as children and to reclaim the worlds we once gave up for lost. We suddenly remember that there were magical places where we felt safe and where anything was possible. Landscapes where our fears were hidden disguised as clowns and a giant slide kept us away from any concern. Almost mythological scenes that have given us back by artists born more than fifty years ago like Kenny Scharf, Anthony Ausgang or John Jesse, and that continue to draw later generations of authors such as Sergio Mora, Mab Graves, Jeff Soto, Tara McPherson or Rébecca Dautremer. Their works claim that behind terms so much used as retro or vintage lies a deep and genuine emotion, which shakes us and gives us back the love for the forgotten elements that made us what we are today. They smacks us so we realize that life hasn’t stopped on the road, that we’re actually still the same creature that played with toy cars and spent his coins on heart shaped lollipops. Let us dust off the idea of not being so far away from that unprejudiced laughter that was once ours, nor from that infinite capacity to amaze ourselves with any discovery, however small it was. We rediscover that we can still perceive the hidden magic in any corner, that our senses have not lost the power to recognize the touch of a teddy bear, the smell of an unopened eraser, or the sound of the tuning of those Saturday morning cartoons.
Lowbrow illustration welcomes us all into an unexpected but necessary brotherhood, under the flag of a naughty Peter Pan who doesn’t give up, who resists the pushing of the adult world despite the sorrows, who continues to sketch with crayons on the restaurant table cloth. For the 21st century adult, Lowbrow is the shamanic medicine in the strawberry cough syrup, it’s the surprise of finding the prize at the bottom of the cereal box, when he had almost stopped looking for it.