Images courtesy of the Long Beach Museum of Art. Valentin Popov, St. Wonder Woman, 2009, oil on wood block with 24-karat gold-plated brass.
For the first time, Ukranian-born artist Valentin Popov’s work will be shown in a Southern California museum.
Ironic Icons: The Art of Valentin Popov at the Long Beach Museum of Art (LBMA), to open Thursday, January 12 and run through, Sunday, March 19, will feature 60 of the modern painter’s works, including pieces from his Ironic Icon series, where the artist combined images of American comic book superheroes with traditional religious iconography from early Christianity.
“It was in 1993 when I first began to meld my Ukrainian past, filled with the memories of icons, with the exciting, yet unnerving sea of American pop culture,” Popov said in a statement.
The exhibition shows works which include traditional Russian icons with American subjects such as St. Batman, St. Superman and St. Wonder Woman, embossed and engraved with sterling silver and 24kt gold covers, according to the museum.
Valentin Popov, St. Superman, 2009, oil on gilded wood block.
“I focused on the image of Batman over all other superheroes,” Popov stated. “Poignantly, he was, more than any of the others, just a man. He was not endowed with super powers beyond his intelligence, athleticism, or an exotic array of weapons, devices, and vehicles at his disposal. This sense of power, mixed with human vulnerability, made him an irresistible choice to incorporate into my art.”
Popov’s iconic large-scale painting Early Morning, based on the 1817 painting L’Amour et Psyche by French artist François-Édouard Picot, will also be on display.
“The museum has had a long history presenting art works that defy easy classification,” said Ron Nelson, LBMA’s executive director, in a statement. “American superheroes and their imperial retinue capture the imagination like none other and to see their pop culture realism blended with Orthodox Christian iconography is a brilliant juxtaposed concept and invites us to view both traditions in an entirely new and challenging light.”
Popov has works in the National Museum of Ukrainian Art, the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and more.
For more information please visit the museum’s website here.