the comic cubist

On the emergence and development of comic-cubism

The Prince Charming released
The Prince Charming released

ditArdo studied at the Merz Academy in Stuttgart in the early 1980s and tended towards surrealism in his artistic language. At the end of the 1980s / beginning of the 1990s, he worked for the Stankowski and Geipel studios, among others, illustrated the Moorgeist as a book illustrator in 1991 and was a freelance lecturer for representational drawing at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart as well as at the Merzakademie (College of Design) until 2004.

At the beginning of the 90s, he developed his characteristic artistic language of ‘comic cubism’.

The cat
Acrylic on cotton
ditArdo, Jakarta 2005
The Cat

The term was then coined in 2004 by Fred Feuerbach in connection with ditArdo’s paintings before a wide audience. It describes the formal approach of the overlapping stylistic terms ‘comic‘ and ‘cubism‘. The comic is characterised by the means of line and surface, whereby the space is also defined by the surface. The striking effect is used together with synthetic ‘cubism‘, the simultaneous and superimposed depiction of different views or perspectives, to make contrasting statements about the subject or experiences. The motif becomes a pictorial symbiosis of everyday experiences, dreams, of lines, colours, structures. For example, the ‘Yellow Cat’ stands for the image of laisser-faire, of roaming around in the midday sun.

Questions about the fourth dimension in the artistic process of observation arose in 2005, primarily in sunny Jakarta. What colour are the streaks of light over the water, how much time is eight months, is time yellow, red or blue?

“People have tried to explain Cubism mathematically, geometrically, psychoanalytically. That is pure literature. Cubism has plastic aims. We see in it only a means of expressing what we perceive with the eye and the mind, making use of all the possibilities that lie in the essential qualities of drawing and colour. This became for us a source of unexpected joys, a source of discoveries.”

Pablo Picasso

Chewing gum and Coca-Cola

His childhood in the 60s, like that of so many others of his generation, was marked by comic figures, ‘pop art’, chewing gum and Coca-Cola. But while other children struggled with English, Latin or physics at school, ditArdo used every minute of his school time to draw, and draw ‘comics’. Inspired by comic artists like Disney, Uderzo or Charles M. Schulz, ditArdo drew mostly self-developed characters.

Role models and inspiration

Pablo Picasso was already impressed by Rudolf Dirks and other US American comic strip artists, and so there has always been a connection between the comic strip and ‘Cubism’, which was celebrated as revolutionary, in art historical terms too.

Of course, ‘Cubism‘ with all its generally famous representatives from Picasso to Braques plays a role in the work of the ‘comic cubist‘ ditArdo. But works by the ‘cubism‘ critic Henry Matisse have also inspired him through their flatness and colouring.

Picasso’s revolutionary Cubism is considered the most influential art movement of the 20th century and earned him the nickname “Father of Modern Art”. Its impact was so immense that it helped inspire a host of other art movements around the world, such as Futurism, Suprematism, Dadaism, Constructivism, Vortism, De Stijl and Art Deco.

But Picasso was also an avid fan of American comic strips, especially “The Katzenjammer Kids”, and this influence is obvious. If Cubism was the opening shot of modern art, comics gave him something of the “Bang!”

Roy Schwartz, Kunsthistoriker

The study

The Reclining Two-piece painting each 200 x 200cm Acrylic on canvas The sketch for the picture was made on two yellow and square PostIt notes. At that time, ditArdo had his studio in the basement of the company building of caatoosee AG, in Stuttgart. Jokingly ditArdo called himself at that time often "the court jester" of caatoosee AG.
The Reclining

During his studies at the Merz Academy, ditArdo then also drew characters such as Tick, Trick and Track or Donald Duck for cinema commercials. This was quite lucrative weekend work. These works with well-known ‘comic’ characters remained the exception. At this time, he also produced some mystical and surreal pencil drawings as well as several nature studies.

The first comic cubist paintings

At the beginning of the 90s, ditArdo painted his first ‘comic-cubist’ pictures. In them, the figure no longer took the leading role, but rather the interplay of the different perspectives, the coloured surfaces, the lines and structures.

Realism and Abstraction

Later, some of these became so abstract that eventually no whole figures were recognisable, but only the lines and shapes were reminiscent of ‘comics’. From then on, ditArdo began to add realistic elements to its ‘comic’ figures. In the meantime, realistic elements are mixed with comic-like forms. New aesthetic elements and also surreal sceneries emerge.

DitArdo thus developed his comic cubism into a style all his own. The expressive works find their origin neither in photos nor in any other models, but they spring from his own world of imagination and intuition.

Ronald Reder (art historian) London
ditArdo signature
ditArdo the comic cubist signature

In the meantime, the term ‘comic cubism‘ is spreading and will thus establish itself as an art genre of its own within pop art.

The guitarist Oil on chalk ground on linen 100x100cm ditArdo 2016 The guitarist is a satire on the Croatian pop band Psycho Modo Pop, which dietardo had seen on Croatian television in the nineties. At that time, the singer of the band jumped on stage in the clip full of verve, similar to what was known from the seventies. In ditArdo the singer became the guitarist. This picture has not yet been exhibited and is still available.
The guitarist Oil on chalk ground on linen 100x100cm ditArdo 2016