Until the 1990s, Chris Mars we best known as the drummer for The Replacements and the supergroup Golden Smog. But he turned his back on a successful career in the music industry to peruse his other passion: Painting. His art, examples of which grace all of his album covers, is marked by nightmarish landscapes and grotesque, distorted figures. While his paintings are clearly reminiscent of the colors and style of Hieronymus Bosch (the 16th Century Dutch artist famous for fantastic landscapes and religious themes) he also draws inspiration from his older brother’s struggle with schizophrenia.
Check out an excerpt from an interview he gave with AVClub.com in 2011:
The A.V. Club: Let’s start by talking about the inspiration for your painting. The first inspiration for you was your childhood experience witnessing your brother’s difficulty with mental illness, right?
Chris Mars: It’s a steadfast inspiration that runs [through] what I do. Though my work gets pretty sociopolitical on a larger scale, that’s really where the crux of it started, with my experiences with my brother. Because that’s where I first learned about empathy, trying to put myself in his shoes—and also about how family members, people in the neighborhood, and society at large, how they deal [with mental illness]. And the stigmatizing of people who are considered different. All those themes started pretty early for me. Visually through my work, over and over, I’m trying to create characters that are—to some people they may be monstrous, and I hate that word, because I think they’re just unique. Misfits. I purposefully want to present something a little different so that whether people are disturbed by it or not, they can wrestle with it.
AVC: Your brother was 15 when he was diagnosed as schizophrenic, and you were 5?
CM: I was around 5 or 6. I was pretty young and didn’t know what was happening. At that time there was really no name for it. Whenever somebody would have trouble, like maybe someone down the block, [people would say] “Mr. So-And-So had a nervous breakdown.” That was always the way my brother was described. “Nervous breakdown,” “schizophrenia,” there was never any label. It was always very confusing. All I knew is that my brother was there and then he wasn’t there. He had to go away somewhere, and that was really confusing and frightening as a little kid.
Related Article: MADMASKMAN BLEEDS FOR HIS ART!
Mars’ official website, HERE, is a treasure trove of beautiful horror and blissful morbidity. Check out a few of my favorite examples below and visit the artists’ site for more. What do you think of Mars’ work? Sound off in the Comments section!