Right now at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, there’s an exciting exhibition called Ecstatic Alphabets/Heaps of Language.
It’s a group exhibition featuring the works of 12 contemporary artists using different media, works that represent a radical updating of the possibilities inherent in the relationship between art and durr bluh booboob vum-vum prook prook VEEEEEEEEEEEH!!!
HOPATTA HOPATTA BING!
Sorry. I just bored myself into a fit there. I don’t give a shit about that exhibition. Not one jot nor tittle excites me about any of it. I’m not into art.
Sure, I like Mucha, Dix, Hiroshige, and a lot of other stuff, but I enjoy those works in a very simple way, and most art enthusiasts would probably consider me a Philistine should I ever speak loudly about the works of those artists.
Then there’s a different form of art I enjoy. You most definitely won’t find these artists in any gallery near you, at least not a respectable gallery. Even the so-called lowbrow artists look down on the art these guys make. Enthusiasts of kitsch and camp would never dare slumming this low. It’s a movement so underground, you probably haven’t heard of it. In fact, I don’t even think it has a name, at least not one I’m aware of.
So I’ll simply give it a name right now: Wolphinjun Art.
That’s an amalgamation of the names of three creatures in American wildlife that is often portrayed in these pictures: wolves, dolphins, and Injuns.
The motifs in these pictures are often dolphins, sea turtles, or wild stallions frolicking in a tropical landscape, apparently airbrushed with the most glaring colors the artist could find. Then there’s a slightly rougher sub-genre of Wolphinjun that has motifs of wolves, Injuns, or wolves with Injuns. Wolphinjun is the visual equivalent of really cheesy New Age music, something you’ll see if you ever search for New Age tunes on YouTube. Wolphinjun paintings go really well with the sound of a forest stream or whale song.
(Notice that I use the word “Injun,” as opposed to “Indian” or “Native-American.” That’s because the New Age view of Native-Americans and their culture that is portrayed on these pictures is so removed from any form of reality, they make James Cameron’s Avatar look like a brilliant documentary on the Sioux.)
Since the pictures are often made with airbrush and the motifs are so banal, Wolphinjun is closely related to the kind of pictures you’ll see on trucks and motorcycles. But where there’s often an element of erotica and patriotism on trucks, Wolphinjun offers only serenity (unless you’re an epileptic, in which case the colors might induce a fit.)
But let’s focus on the more tropical and marine-oriented aspects of Wolphinjun.
Like, say, Tiki, this type of art is pure escapism for the people who enjoy it. You don’t have to have studied art theory and history for years to appreciate the sight of a dolphin being really fucking happy in the Pacific. You don’t have to wonder about the artist’s motives. What you see is what you get. If there’s symbolism involved, it’s so heavy-handed and banal, even a Swede will understand it.
All you need to enjoy Wolphinjun is a wish for a tropical island, serenity, and a dolphin or two. And who hasn’t?
My fascination for Wolphinjun hasn’t yet gotten me to the point where I’ve actually bought a poster. My girlfriend would frown on that. And I’ll also admit that I’d be too embarrassed to put a poster up on my walls. There’s probably an element of irony in my enjoyment of these indefensibly stupid pictures—I won’t deny that—but there’s an escapist inside of me who also genuinely appreciates them for portraying this dull and monochrome world in colors that simply does not exist in nature.
Wolphinjun doesn’t just come on posters. This is my girlfriend’s bath towel:
Just look at that thoughtful horse in front of that moon! What do you think that horse is thinking of? Beats me, but it’s probably something profound.
Judging by my admittedly shitty research, Wolphinjun has at least four superstar artists. This weird pantheon consists of Martin Allen, Jeffrey Michael Wilkie, David Miller, and my favorite: the fair-haired elfish surfer Christian Riese Lassen, a man who probably farts little drops of hope.
You might notice that these fellas call themselves “marine artists,” but both in my mind and on Google, “marine art” conjures up a slightly different type of paintings. It’s “Wolphinjun” from now on, whether the artists want it or not.
What I’m trying to say is that there’s nothing wrong with dolphins and faux spirituality in art. Let’s have some more of it in respectable galleries.