Unruly Mayhem on Brian Reedy’s “Grey Planet”

Galvanized by sundry comic books, pop culture elements (including superheroes and toys), video games and oddball, B-grade Japanese horror flicks, artist Brian Reedy has been producing his inventive woodcuts and drawings for quite a while now, showing at spaces in the Miami area in the past few years, such as at the Dorsch and the Centre gallery.
Mostly praised for his deftness with the traditional medieval woodcut, Reedy also exudes an impressive imagination in his cartoonish, yet visionary drawings infused with several tints and shades of gray hues. His new show, Grey Planet, at the Dorsch in the Design District, purveys well his talents, offering a view of his latest creations.
Reedy has always been a proponent of the primal quality of techniques used by Middle Ages craftsmen, who engraved malevolent images on woodblocks of saints being thrashed and tortured for some spiritual sacrifice. Often, Reedy employs this technique, yet refines it by incising an illustration into the wood, then painting the surface with acrylics, rendering the final product more enduring and potent.
His woodcuts here, especially his series “Salad Days Redux,” make use of a similar medieval style, depicting sadistic scenes of violence to comment on certain psychological quandaries met by humans. In his artist statement, he notes that the series is “primarily influenced by the over-the-top violence in Asian cult films such as Battle Royale, Tetsuo: The Iron Man and The Story of Ricki.”
Moreover, he notes that the title comes from the Monty Python skit “Salad Days,” thus it satirizes director Sam Peckinpaw’s work. The scenes in these woodcuts are indeed ferocious and do help to convey the artist’s message – i.e., consistent exposure to absurd amounts of violence (such as in cartoons, movies, video games or comic books) numbs the viewer’s senses, almost making this serious issue seem trifling.
Although some of his subject matter edges on been-done-before platitudes (such as progress in science leading to the downfall of humanity, or the dichotomy of organic beings vs. robots, or our desensitization to violence), Reedy displays his own particular vision and does so distinctively. He even explains that when he was a kid, he believed that “everyone would soon be zooming around in electric cars and Martin Landau would be living on the moon in 1999.” This chilhood naivet