“This whole creation is essentially subjective, and the dream is the theater where the dreamer is at once: scene, actor, prompter, stage manager, author, audience, and critic.” CARL JUNG
If Hieronymus Bosch took the blue pill instead and sat down to a mad hatters tea party with Marie Antoinette, a hookah-smoking Caterpillar & a couple of unicorns you may just open the curtain into Daniel Merriam’s theatre fantastic. A Master American Surrealist painter, his worlds speak to those of us who adored the movie The Labyrinth and found ourselves asking, Why the hell wouldn’t she stay with the Goblin King? It’s firmly the territory of a child’s bubblegum mind.
With that nostaligic whisper of storyteller musings, his works refreshingly bring us back to those times before childhood characters were pimped out as playing cards, blockbuster movies, PG ratings and mobile apps. There’s that Peter Pan delight of bygone masters like Maxfield Parrish, Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac & the gawky, languid, playfulness of a Norman Rockwell protagonist. Combine this with his technical background in architectural drawing and his uncompromising skill in taming watercolour and you find yourself with a romantic conjuror. A Willy Wonka dispensing sweetness to the people. “I try to defy gravity and lift people’s minds above the weight of our world”.
Merriam’s utopias swirl and move like kaleidoscopic dioramas. In effect they remind me of those traditional Chinese landscape paintings of mountains, forests and streams. Many of these were produced for city workers trapped in their workaday lives. Visual meditations, the paintings were a way for workers to time out and mentally walk through the landscapes and reconnect with their spirit or nature. Merriam’s worlds invite you in with open arms. To walk through, to discover the small, to play. Once you break through the humming beehive of your adult mind, you may just stumble across wonder. Perhaps most refreshing of all is that amongst the vivid, thrumming pixels & cynicism of contemporary society, Merriam enjoys a legion of fans ready to experience that golden ticket into a place where the streets are paved with bubbles.
Might I suggest a soundtrack for your viewing pleasure.