These Pop Culture Mini-Portraits Are Truly a Sight to Behold

Two pieces by Ashton Gallagher for his upcoming solo show.
Image: All Images: Ashton Gallagher (Gallery 1988)
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Size matters, especially in the world of pop culture art. Collectors can only buy and display so many full size movie posters before running out of wall space. And once that happens, their eyes may turn to smaller, but equally awesome pieces. Lots of artists’ work fits that billbut a new, up-and-coming talent has his first show in Los Angeles this week, and it looks excellent.

Starting this Friday, Gallery 1988 will present the first solo show for Ashton Gallagher. Gallagher specializes in (mostly) 4 x 4 inch mini-portraits that capture characters in a realistic yet striking fashion, and we’re excited to debut a few pieces from the show.

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The Iron Giant (this one’s not 4x4)
Ripley from Alien
Donatello
Kim from Edward Scissorhands
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Professor Dumbledore from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Professor Dumbledore from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone study drawing
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The show is comprised of paintings, like the top five pieces; study drawings (such as the Dumbledore above); and prints. The opening is Friday, March 15 from 7-9:00 p.m. at Gallery 1988 in Los Angeles, CA, and the work remains on display through March 30.

Gallagher lives in Plainfield, Illinois and has been a professional artist for about six years. “My time as a professional artist can be summed up like a Swiss army knife,” Gallagher told us via email. “Book and magazine illustration, murals, concept art, the list goes on. And with all these career facets my work in pop culture, by far, is an aspect I enjoy the most. It’s an opportunity to put my own visual stamp, even if it’s a small one, on a big part of our culture.”

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As for why he chose this specific format, the whole idea of mini-portrait paintings just started on a whim. “Honestly, they began as simple painting exercises,” Gallagher said. “A way to focus on a painting challenge while working on a small scale and fast time table. Keep things simple and fun but execute the best possible painting. The response I had from revealing these pieces was just too hard to ignore. People took notice, so I ran with it.”

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Some of the people that took notice were at the prestigious pop culture art venue Gallery 1988, which gave Gallagher his first opportunity to be part of a group show in 2013. “Since that time, I have had nothing but amazing opportunities come my way as a result,” he said. “I want to do right by the gallery for taking that chance.”

To do right by the gallery, Gallagher has created 30 new pieces for the show— though the list of characters he’d eventually like to cover is even longer than that.

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“In developing the line up for this show, I came up with a list of close to 75 characters that I would love to paint,” Gallagher said. “As paintings were completed for the show, my list would evolve, ideas would change and not every character made the final 30 paintings. That doesn’t change my interest in painting those other characters and leave lots of potential for future pieces—lots of ‘em!”

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So if you like Gallagher’s work, Friday is a good place to start. But that’s definitely all it is, just the start.

“When it comes to my first solo show at Gallery 1988, a career bucket list item for sure, my ‘all in’ will be on display,” Gallagher said.

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Again, that display runs March 15-30 at Gallery 1988 in Los Angeles, CA. For more of Gallagher’s work, visit his website. For more on the show itself, visit Gallery 1988.


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About the author

Germain Lussier

Entertainment Reporter for io9/Gizmodo