Barry McMahon is an artist/entrepreneur and the President of Deeper Arts Inc., an art/app production/development company devoted to creating artistic, thought-provoking, visual experiences through the production of apps, games, posters and animation. His body of work is remarkable in its diversity. McMahon’s artistic history spans an array of media and genres, as well as decades, while incorporating new technologies while responding to an ever-changing social topography.
He received his BFA degree from Bowling Green State University in 1983 and has been producing fine art ever since.
McMahon’s post-graduate efforts read like the stereotypical starving artist novel. His days and nights were filled with working in frame shops and restaurants while taking every spare moment to create paintings, drawings, music and animation. Group and solo shows highlighted the years he spent in Ann Arbor, Boston and San Francisco, experimenting with mixed media in music, sound and animation production for film and video.
In the early nineties, however, McMahon moved to Minnesota and took a very definitive turn in his approach to the manner in which art would play a role in his life. He began working as a scenic artist and designer on a variety of projects, most notably the design of spectacular music video sets and the 1992 World Tour Stage for Prince. His film credits include Grumpy Old Men, Little Big League and A Simple Plan. Barry continued to paint and draw during this period but made no effort to show his work in galleries. His fine art pieces were at once a reflection of his commercial work and a therapeutic departure from it.
A further step in this symbiotic evolution of commercial work and fine art resulted from McMahon’s immersion into the world of corporate design and marketing. As Senior Designer for a 750 store video rental/retail chain McMahon exploited the power of industry related software applications to create remarkably engaging graphics, animation and multi-media presentations. These experiences re-awakened, in McMahon, a deep-seated passion for the bold, bright and captivating allure of the comic superhero. However, the limitations of the corporate environment re-awakened quite another sort of passion, McMahon’s lust for painting. McMahon bridges the graphic impact of comic art and the various painting styles he borrows or invents to complete each piece within the Superheroes Thrust into Domestic Situations series.
The series is the ultimate evolution of McMahon’s influences, from DaVinci to Lichtenstein with a rather lengthy stop at the door of Stan Lee and Bob Kane. It fuses Pop sensibilities with devotional respect to art history while adding just the right amount of social commentary.
The superhero series starts with the pop tradition of taking everyday items, in this case a depiction of a comic book hero, and displaying it as art. However, the next step is made by taking that object, the fictional hero, the comic icon, and bringing him or her down to earth, made flesh so to speak. Humanizing the superhero brings the viewer directly into the story of the work of art itself, creating a personal interaction between the viewer and the art that is presumably directed by the artist, where the images tell a story that is unmistakable, however, countless personal perceptions of the artwork can still exist.
If the Superheroes Thrust into Domestic Situations are the bridge between comic 2D graphics and Impressionism or American Realism then Barry's most recent pieces are the highway to NuCubism, a genre McMahon is creating and writing a treatise for in that certain distinct aspects of the style should be visibly evident to qualify a piece of work as NuCubism. A simplified description would be a combination of cubism, constructivism and assemblage which may or may not incorporate new technologies and substrates.