Comic book heroes and religious iconography are joining forces at the Long Beach Museum of Art. “I love that combination of when you have a classical base, but then someone takes it to that next step in a very smart way, and I love that about this work.” “They’re smart, beautifully executed,” he said. Combining Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman with traditional religious iconography transforms the characters into saintlike figures in “Ironic Icons: The Art of Valentin Popov.” “I think the work is going to speak volumes,” said Ron Nelson, executive director of the Long Beach Museum.
12 and runs through March 19 at the Long Beach venue. It features about 85 works, including paintings, photographs, ceramic sculptures and a large-scale piece inspired by a classic painting. In Russia, the word ‘icon’ — it’s classic religious object, which you have at home or you see at a church.” The modern painter’s work on display at the museum will feature the familiar images of such comic book heroes as Superman, who is depicted with a stern face tearing off his suit and getting into his hero threads. “It’s playing on classic sayings,” Popov said a few days before the opening. The exhibition by the Ukrainian-born artist opens Jan. “Icons here (in the U.S.), we’re talking pop icons; it’s a human.
Popov, who first began mixing the religious icons that were part of his Ukrainian childhood with the superheroes that he discovered in American pop culture in 1993, sees a lot of similarities between religious figures and these caped crusaders. Another depicts Wonder Woman, standing strong with her fists closed and placed confidently on her hips.The pop icons are displayed at the center of elaborately engraved and embossed sterling silver- or gold-plated covers that are either original centuries-old and once used to frame religious Russian icons, or covers that were re-created using original techniques.
“Look at Batman. He decides who’s right, who’s wrong and then takes care of the matter. “I was shocked by parallels,” Popov said. He acting like God, and then I was thinking maybe he is a kind of a god.” The Oakland-based artist’s work has been shown at the National Museum of Ukrainian Art, the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco and the Metropolitan Museum Art in New York.This exhibition, which marks his first show at a Southern California museum, also includes a large-scale painting called “Early Morning.” He’s a human like Jesus.