The work of Philly artist Brandon Grumbling first came to our attention a few weeks ago, when a friend tipped us off to the above painting, which was part of a group show at Day Space in Fishtown. Now, much has been written of "Crying Michael Jordan," and we suspect that mankind is not even close to being finished yet on pondering the simultaneous profundity and weirdness of this image, and the strange hold it has had on Internet consciousness. But Grumbling's take on Crying Jordan almost wants to pause and bring our hero back to his initial humanity, even as the painting's color saturation and style pulls it away, back to the world of LULZ. That's quite a feat, but as you dig into Grumbling's work, you'll see that it's very much of a piece — all over his paintings, you'll see human totems of pop culture having various levels of success clawing their way back to humanity. That is very intentional. From his artist's statement:
Most recently I've been interested in using portraiture to explore themes rooted in internet culture and the meme. Humor has always played an important role in my paintings and I'm particularly fascinated in the way that memes develop and mutate as they circulate the Internet. I try to produce paintings that are easily accessible and quickly recognizable; often directly referencing images and subjects that have spawned trending jokes on Instagram. I'm interested in using my work to comment on the state of our culture and how the Internet has directly impacted the way we absorb our surroundings and interact with each other in a time when everyone is only a tap or swipe away at any moment. Ultimately I would like my work to communicate with viewers in a way that is reflective of the always-changing time and culture that currently surrounds us, yet still paying respect to the tradition of painting.
Bearing that in mind, Grumbling is a must-follow on Instagram, where his work and his life spills out daily.