Tripper Dungan is a local Portland artist who creates silly, psychadelic, often 3-dimensional paintings and artwork. He works mainly with found materials, or other people's junk, and creates imagery that calls upon the endlessness of perception and the amazing places that we can go with our imagination. Even his two dimensional work has the illusion of three-dimensionality, mainly through use of texture and color.
This piano diorama, which was on display at the Pony Club gallery, combines dissimilar materials to create a striking and playful composition. Dioramas are a nostalgic form of art that often recall childhood school projects or church nativity scenes. The child size play keyboard on the front of the diorama even more strongly brings associations of youth. The subdued, more monochromatic colors used for the worn wood back of the diorama juxtaposed with the bright (but still pastel) colors and shiny, man-made finish of the keyboard are dissimilar enough to add visual interest but not so dissonent as to throw off the viewer from the overall mood of the piece.
The piece still manages to have visual unity despite the variety of materials used by having the encompassing texture of the diorama be uniform. The intentionally imperfect paint job throughout the external box which holds the inner scene of the diorama. The rustic bark corner accents and the hand cut lighter wood teardrop shapes also playfully reference the type of finishing touches we might see an on old church organ or austere grand piano. The fact that there are no hard edges or corners, and that all of the lines we see are curvilinear adds a very informal, friendly softness to the piece.
Then, we are brought to the inside of the diorama. As oppose to the primarily pastel blue paint we see covering the outside, the inside has much more of the darker wood finish showing through, giving the inside more visual depth and drawing attention to the centerpiece of the scene; a small masculine character with a body shape reminiscent of a Lego toy. This figurine, however, has an intentionally more organic appearance created by the partitions of his joints being more rounded than a typically mass produced Lego and of a lack of sheen or polish.
This man character has a rainbow of colors covering his form, which really makes him pop against the muted blue of the outside of the panorama and the dark wood of the inside, and the variety of colors and the palette itself recalls a more subdued version of psychedelic 70's art. There is a small talk bubble, made of wood, which extends from his mouth, clearly referencing the imagery we would see inside a comic book, usually a two dimensional medium. It adds even more visual interest that both the talk bubble's sides are black and the music note's front are black while the side of the music note is blue. This unconventional color choice gives these items dimension in an unexpected way. Overall, this piece works well compositionally and is an interesting and original take on the traditional diorama. You can see more of Tripper Dungan's work up right now at the Goodfoot this month, over on SE 28th and Stark.