Chris Mars, painter, The Replacements, USA, sureal art, oli painting, schitzophrenia, hanford, nuclear contamination, malformation, eyes, tentacles, dark art magazine

Chris Mars (USA) - PAINTER OF THE PERCEIVED INSANITY: We are the monsters!

Paintings, music & monsters...

INSIDE artzine #17 (PREVIEW/BUY)
+++ Matt Lombard (USA), Seth Siro Anton (GRE), Marcelo Vasco (BRA), Shichigoro Shingo (japan) +++

CHECK OUT THE SPECIAL ABOUT HIS GALLERY REPRESENTATIVE “COPRO GALLERY” (including an interview with the gallery owner and pictures of Chris Mars, Chet Zar and others) in INSIDE artzine #21 (PREVIEW/BUY)

Chris Mars, painer, infront of one of his masterpieces, dark artIt is difficult to describe the pictures of the American painter Chris Mars. Although he uses a wide variety of media such as oil paint, pastel chalk, scratchboard, or even film and music, a certain thought seems to run through all his works. They all seem to want to tell a dark, unknown story. The expression in the faces he depicts is too impressive, the scenarios too oppressively detailed and the dreams of the viewer too lastingly disturbed to be a mere visualization of an indefinable mood of the painter. Years ago, for an interview in the magazine VIRUS, I asked the painter and musician from Minneapolis/USA exactly this. He replied, “In the end, I want my paintings to tell a story, but at the beginning I never know which one it will be.” So let’s follow the dark path through the imagination of Chris Mars, wherever it may lead us.

The name Chris Mars first seeped into the world in 1979 when he was the co-founder and drummer of the band “The Replacements”. Initially a punk band with legendary wild, alcoholic live gigs, the band with the singer Paul Westerberg then turned to the much quieter “Alternative Rock” in the eighties and even reached number 1 in the American Billboard Modern Rock Charts.

Chris Mars, painter, The Replacements, USA, sureal art, oli painting, schitzophrenia, hanford, nuclear contamination, malformation, eyes, tentacles

Whether that’s good or bad, I don’t know. Although the (later) music was radiating some sort of dark melancholy, it is difficult to find roots there for the painter’s obsession that burst out of Chris Mars after he left the band in 1991.

The boundaries between artist and artwork often seem to be fluid in dark, surreal art which has the effect that the viewer is driven into the realm of a personal revelation between beauty and abyss, “Let me tell you something about monsters. I have great empathy toward monsters, or more accurately, perceived monsters. To me, monsters are more like misfits, people who are physically deformed, or rather, uniquely formed (as indeed we all are, each of us); or, people who are mentally on a different plane than the majority. I am sympathetic toward perceived monsters, because I have known and loved perceived monsters, and have felt this way myself.“ Do we see “monsters” in the pictures of Chris Mars? Are faces with these deeply emotional looks “monsters”? Or is it just that what often makes his works seem grotesque? The beauty of the monster…. Chris Mars himself?

Chris Mars, painter, The Replacements, USA, sureal art, oli painting, schitzophrenia, faces, letter, red nose


A key to Chris Mars’ work seems to lie in his past. In interviews as well as on his homepage, he tells about his brother who suffered from schizophrenia. “He saw things, he heard things. Were they monsters? Was he? He was fifteen. I was five. I went to see him. The sights, sounds and smells I experienced as a small child visiting him there, are prevalent throughout my work. Did he see monsters? Or did I?”

Chris Mars, painter, The Replacements, USA, sureal art, oli painting, schitzophrenia, hanford, nuclear contamination, malformation, eyes, tentacles, artscum

It is not so much the disease itself, which is accompanied by a strong change in perception (voices, hallucinations) and behavior (listlessness, falling silent) of the person concerned, that obviously has become the object of Chris Mars’ artistic vision. It is rather the way how society dealt with his brother’s illness in particular and with “otherness” in general that became the topic of his creative action: “I want people to consider the beauty that lives beneath the veneer of my troubled figures and faces. Through my work, it is my intention to bring these souls forward as a symbol of and a memorial to the many who live with mental illness, those who are labeled and thereby limited by some flaw that is in truth only a fraction of what that whole person is about.

We are the monsters! Look into the Chris Mars’ pictures as if you looked into a mirror. Nobody is really ugly, not even those who only believe in beauty. One of his art books is therefore called “Tolerance” (Shoplink)

Read more of his thoughts on his WEBSITE watch the incredible videos/shortfilms on his YouTube channel (some “time-lapse paintings” videos showing how he paints his masterpieces) and also check out the other artists like Chet Zar, Menton 3 and Allen Williams from his gallery representative COPRO

Trevor Brown, Japan, illustration, girl, guts, heart, lung, liver, rips

Trevor Brown (JAP) - CONTROVERSAL CULT PAINTER: „Does it bother you when people masturbate to your work?“

Hidden beauty, invisibile brutality and... unchallenged cult!

8-PAGE SPECIAL (inkl. Interview) IN
INSIDE artzine #19 (PREVIEW/BUY)
+++ Chris Mars (USA), Seungyea Park (Republic of Korea), Kamerian (Japan) +++

INSIDEartzine No. 19, dark art magazine

Trevor Brown, girl with sad eyes, dark artIt‘s your own fault when you always listen to the opinions of others. When you move preconceived opinions to and fro in your own perception, like scenery in an empty theatre. Art can change fundamentally in the angle of viewing – this becomes only too clear in the work of Trevor Brown, an Englishman who has been living in Japan since 1994. In the Western understanding of art (by the way, also on Wikipedia), Brown is seen as a morally condemnable chronicler of the humiliation of young girls and thus pushed into the light of pedophile glorification; in Japan, however, he is considered as a master of anti-Kawaii. To understand this typical Japanese way of thinking, it is not enough just to clarify the terminology, but it helps.


Trevor Brown, Japan, illustration, child, bunny ears, black leather, gun, fetish, art scum„Kawaii“ can be roughly translated as „cute“ or „sweet“; it is a design term in Japan that is used not only in art (mangas and anime, for instance) but also in news graphics, traffic guidance systems, and/or commercial aircraft interiors. To Western brains, these aesthetics of cuteness often seem rather „inappropriate“ or „unserious“. It has probably to do with the enviable effort of the Japanese not to have to unlearn childlike behaviour in old age completely. And the art, described on Trevor Brown‘s website as „baby art“, then prefixes the term with an „anti“…. Exactly. Anti! There are the cute little girls with black eyes, bloody mouths, and various medical instruments stuck under their skin. The look of the big manga eyes share the expression with grotesque eye rings and deep sad melancholy. This head-on contrast potentiates the impact of Trevor Brown‘s images into a grotesque urgency that is hard to resist.


Trevor Brown, Japan, illustration, childs, pigtails, chopper, butchery, kitchen, dark art magazine


Trevor Brown, medical bondage, dark artWhen you want to approach the work of Trevor Brown, you should also include his early works. Even before 1994, before his relocation from England to Japan, Japanese women, forms and characters were very present in his works. Fetishes from BDSM, such as (Japanese) bondage or humiliation, were even more visibly incorporated into Brown’s motifs than they are today. The violence in his early paintings seems more painful and unmistakably more real without today‘s „kawaii effect“. This kind of brutality can still be found in his works today, despite the comic-like abstraction and the big eyes. But it has become more enigmatic and thus more intense. The conflict of „violence“ and „innocence“ disturbs many viewers, and only the true connoisseurs of art can face this conflict. Art has to touch the mind, even if it hurts. Otherwise it is only decoration.
You can find an excellent overview of the artist‘s development on his website. You will find an extensive portfolio there which, divided into years, goes back to 1994.


The look on the person behind the work, behind the forehead, is always exciting. What lurks up there in the watery thought muscle of creative outlandishness? In the case of Trevor Brown, this is rather difficult. There was no photo of him to be found in the whole fucking internet, and at the launch for the artbook of INSIDE artzine #20 (in which his work is also represented) in Tokyo‘s „Vanilla Gallery“, he didn‘t show up (okay, outside it was +30° Celsius… at night…). In the 8 page interview with Brown in INSIDE artzine #19, he says of himself, „I find it difficult to believe in anything (even in myself?!).” Lack of self-confidence, however, I could not detect; to the question „Does it bother you when people masturbate to your work?“ he replied, „I make art to please myself primarily… which is synonymous with masturbation.” Unfortunately, as almost always in INSIDE artzine, the interview quickly developed into irresponsible madness, but his statement „all art should be aesthetic terrorism“ is something I‘d want to write on my forehead.

Trevor Brown, artbook "Alice", dark artHave a look at some of his great art books like „Trevor Brown‘s Alice (in Wonderland)“ (2010), „Pandora“ (2015), or the current „La Nursery Noire“ (2019), which, by the way, was censored (!) on some pages by the involved printing company. It seems that anyone who likes has a say there… Buy his books!


Trevor Brown, cosplay of his art, young girl with sweets, dark artTrevor Brown’s art in Japan has been described with many clichés – clichés that apparently exist only in this country. For example, the above mentioned „Kawaii“ (cute), or „Ero Guro“ (art that is focused on sex and decadence and combines the erotic with the grotesque). One of the most famous Otaku excesses must not be missing: Cosplay. There are lots of Japanese websites and blogs where countless (female) Trevor Brown fans recreate the scenarios and poses of his paintings! Some of them are in an adorably dilettante and obsessive way photographed with the own mobile phone, others however are professionally staged with makeup, costumes and professional post-processing. Compare „original“ and „cosplay“: The „Trevor Brown-Special“ in INSIDE artzine #19 shows both the original illustrations and the photos where fans represent exactly the same poses. Trevor Brown’s visions come to life, as it were. Did I hear someone shout the magic word „CULT“ from the last row?!? That‘s right!!! Great, unique art that touches you deeply despite, or even because of, the innocent surface!