Meme Ranch



Escape from New York: Volume 2020, 2021

(Screen print, iridescent oil stick
on canvas)

85 x 55 x 1.5 in
215.9 x 139.7 x 3.8 cm


The biggest story in a year of big stories was the coronavirus, COVID-19. In this painting XVALA presents an everyman, in the shape of the iconic Homer Simpson, facing representations of the viral scourge. But it's not only the viral pandemic that threatens; he's also surrounded by the viral hypedemic of trendy brands and high fashion. One viral entity threatens his physical life; the other threatens his human individuality. Both are insidious in their approach, and both, when untreated, can cause death—one of the body and the other of the soul. The artist leaves us with some ambiguity regarding the everyman's role (and thus our own role) in all of this: Is he being attacked by the viral elements, or is he himself the carrier and superspreader of these twin plagues?

XVALA also takes the opportunity here to weave in a subtle suggestion of Edvard Munch's The Scream. Painted in 1893, one of the world's foremost art scholars has said that it represents the universal anxiety of modern humanity. That feeling is deeply relatable for those who lived through 2020, a year that made us all want to scream at times. We understand the panic of XVALA's screamer: He's trapped like a virus on a microscope, watched and pursued by an unknown force above. But he seems to forget in his panic that he is a part of the very forces that are pursuing him. His badge is a bit sullied with the spoils of the hypedemic, yet he bears the trappings of the "Rona Force" and must therefore have some control over the events that are unfolding. If he doesn't, then who does? Who, indeed, is in control after all? XVALA invites you to ponder the question well.