The Dangerous One: Mark Thomas Gibson Takes Over University of the Arts in Philadelphia
"For me, the reason a comic movie lives or dies is about whether the villain is interesting. If the villain’s intention is too grandiose, we lose sight of the problem and it all becomes spectacle." There were a lot of great observations from Mark Thomas Gibson in his interview with Juxtapoz in the Fall 2018 issue, and many of them came in talks about comic books and storytelling in art. In his new solo show, The Dangerous One, Gibson expands on ideas of how to be both a storyteller and an artist in tumultuous times; times where a good story are needed to make sense of our current state of being. His new show runs through March 8, 2019, at Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
From the gallery:Dark humor is necessary at a time like this: it helps us to remember that all is not lost! In his drawings, Gibson shines a high-key light on the grim and gritty social realities of contemporary America with a biting humor. His work depicts sweeping narratives of a dystopic America, and implicates every viewer as a potential character in this narrative. He therefore reminds us that everything is at stake and that we are all in this together. Gibson’s work is bristling with the energy of immediacy, using a largely-unedited drawing method that allows for improvisation, humor, the comic and grotesque. In his hands, the comic is used for its powers of transformation.
Gibson feels that this moment in American history can be a cleansing, a re-orientation back to empathy and love, but that this process requires a kind of reckoning, a purge of negative spirits flowing around us in the everyday. The Dangerous One lays bare a cycle of American history that feeds directly into the contemporary: dark times in the creation of America, a nation’s failure to acknowledge its own fear-based hatred, and a contemporary moment where the nations of the world retreat into themselves and attempt to force out invaders in a continued refusal of acknowledgement. Gibson’s drawings remind us that we must collectively acknowledge the fears used to stoke the flames of our country’s history, and the pressing need to continue to grow energetically in order to move beyond our collective history. As he says: “We see around us the Rooster coming home to Roost; the dawn is near. So, smile.” In Gibson's work, the smile can be dark because it reflects an inevitable future: we have to get down to get up.