Are our favourite cartoon characters friendly and forces for good, are they violent and malevolent, or are they a mixture of both? Think of Tom and Jerry and the violence which both characters carry out on the other. Even though Jerry is the long-suffering hero, poor Tom suffers beatings and violence as the story plays out to its conclusion.
Imagine a world where our favourite cartoon and comic characters gradually move from good to become dark, sinister and evil. New York artist Joyce Pensato’s exhibition at Lisson Gallery includes over-sized paintings and drawings of figures like Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse and Batman, with a gallery-specific wallpaper installation running up the staircase. Here, we recognise the iconic images, but they are taking on different attributes – a blend of humour and mystery, with sinister overtones, emphasised by the thick black brushlines of the paintings.
Four golden Donald Ducks roll across the wall next to a huge painting of Batman’s mask, which looks more sinister than good, as if representing a move from good to evil. Is he still the saviour of New York or has he become one of the villains? Perhaps superheroes, comic and cartoon characters are a mixture of both, and that is why we like them and the tension in the stories that we read and watch in movies.