The young man is wide-eyed, as if he’s seeing something he can’t quite fathom, and small wonder. While standing in purplish blue water, he’s wearing an orange space helmet and the replica of a little green alien around his neck. Around him swirl multi-colored pieces of confetti and soap bubbles and he’s wearing a shirt emblazoned with images of “My Little Pony.” The fantastic scenario is captured in a painting, “The Other End of the Spectrum” and part of an exhibition bannered “Extendable Realities: Change Everything You Are” currently at the Artist Republic Gallery in Laguna Beach until June 19.
Then there’s “Catch a Wave,” another large oil painting featuring a bikini-clad redhead. She is depicted moving towards a masked water skier wearing a version of an Indian headdress, whizzing over a wavy mountain. Swimmers, a space alien in a cowboy hat and a huge cigarette butt serve as lane markers. Oh, and let’s not forget the deer, juxtaposed against a beach towel in the foreground munching kibble from a dog bowl.
These and other dream-like scenarios are the work of German-born Steffi Homa, who goes by the moniker Super Future Kid. “Extendable Realities” is her first U.S. solo show. Her work has been seen in group shows in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Torrey Cook, proprietor of Artist Republic, likes Homa’s mix of pop culture with images of her own invention and her use of color. Homa also mixes a bit of darkness into her narrative, enough to be thought-provoking but never enough to be depressing, Cook said. “Search Trash Pile,” with its deer caught up in power lines, is a good example of the latter.
A 34-year-old London-based painter, Homa makes good use of her diversified cultural background by creating works that may seem wacky, though they quite effectively mirror the fractured realities of the present generation. The reflect those engrossed in surfing the web, playing video games, remembering childhood toys, watching TV and then mentally processing the variegated, multi-themed and multi-hued jumble that comprises today’s visual world.
Born in the vicinity of Berlin in 1981, Homa, was 8 when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. Having spent her early years in the relative isolation of the East Zone as Germans then called the German Democratic Republic, a new world opened up for the curious little girl with a precocious ambition to become an artist. Once she had finished university prep high school in Berlin, she studied design. “My move to London was a spontaneous one. I did not want to work in a corporate environment, so I freelanced.” she said. “My goal has always been to build my own world.”
And what a world it became, once she and her family were able to leave the confines of East Berlin. She enjoyed her first Coca Cola, saw TV commercials and shows beyond the two state-approved channels she was accustomed to. “Friends gave me a set of My Little Ponies and I got Barbie dolls and houses and cars, but since my parents did not have a lot of money, a lot of things were still out of reach for me. But I looked at and studied anything I could get my hands on,” she recalled.
Today those things along with her fascination with space travel have found their way into the multi-layered story lines of her paintings.
There are references to Brothers Grimm fairytales and childhood holidays, along with action figures and video games all rendered in bright primary or pastel colors in paintings such as “Forever and a day” where the action hero brandishes a sword made from Legos. And then, there is the often-present St. Bernard, replete with his little flask filled with brandy, who assists during rescues in the Alps.
“My brain puts things together that are unrelated and creates new plots. They are not straight stories, but often bizarre situations that come together in dreams,” she said. “But, at the time I put them on canvas, they make sense.” She said her quest for pictorial material is constant. She makes mental collages subconsciously and consciously works on composition and its varied elements in oil, acrylics, guache and even spray paint.
“With every painting, my universe grows,” she said. She also said that decisions regarding painting subjects are intuitive, originating in her subconscious. “I find the subconscious more powerful than the conscious,” she said.