Artist Chris McMahon has come up with an ingenious way to turn faded, bland flea market landscape paintings into clever new works of art. McMahon buys outdated secondhand paintings (the kind you'd find hanging on the wall of a Motel 6) and transforms them by simply adding a friendly monster to the scene. Sometimes scary, sometimes quirky, his 'Involuntary Collaborations' are playful works sure to make you chuckle.
When McMahon first got started on this series, he had less than honorable intentions. The first time he picked up a painting was at a local auction house and he planned to cover it with gesso to make himself a fresh new canvas at a fraction of the cost of a new one. So for one dollar, he bought it. From that point on, if he saw a painting at a thrift store, an auction or yard sale, he would buy it cheap and repurpose it for his own art.
One day he found a painting at a yard sale with a $1.00 sticker on it and purchased it immediately, but for some reason, this one stood out amongst the dozens he’d purchased before.
McMahon says, “It had an ominous purpleness to it – somewhat moody, with mountains in the distance and a large, empty pool of water in the foreground. The landscape itself almost created a frame, the center of which, I felt, was notably absent a subject. So for the first time, I decided not to destroy a cheap landscape painting, but to finish it.” What resulted was the addition of a sea serpent weaving in and out of the water.
“I was, in a sense, working with another painter who was completely unaware of our collaboration. From that point on, I started looking for empty landscapes to “finish” rather than any cheap painting I could whiteout with gesso.”
But to give credit where credit is due, McMahon signs his name next to that of the original artist’s.