Pop Art or Classical Art. Or Neither.

The first time you have seen Idris Mootee’s work, you can be puzzled by how his style could be interpreted. In fact, when you use to work on historical or “classical”painting, you are immediately familiar with his art references so you can question yourself about his purposes. Indeed, most of his paintings refer to very well known old masters and artists, from Leonardo da Vinci to RenéMagritte or Salvador Dali.

Idris Mootee has an impressive culture based on the paintings of old masters and he reexploit them in his own work. But his works of art are more than re-editions of famous paintings he intentionally refers to: his re-interpretation of these well-known pictures we can easily identify in his production is plenty of subtlety and complexity.

At the first glance, you could be astonished by the way Mootee appropriates himself different styles of old masters, producing his own one in his way of drawing, his range of colors and clear lights. However his deep studies on their various manners and “hands” are really sensitive, so you have first the impression to be faced with reproductions of various pieces made by old masters such as MonaLisa, Vang Gogh’s self-portrait, Abar at the Folies-Bergères, Mozart’s portraitor The man with a bowler.

Each time, Idris Mootee immerses himself in the particular style and formal characteristics of former works of art he has chosen, as a challenge for his own hand. Moreover, the analysis of his pictures reveals a singular artistic personality who use sold master pieces to deliver an original message, sometimes offset, on society, so that he literally diverts old masters’ original aims by introducing astonishing elements linked to the character’s personality or function, projecting his subjects away from their former intention and context towards something both offset and related with, which could have been the case if they were living nowadays, like Mozart with Beats or Burberry Trench. But he also plays on context in his art conception, introducing humor or turning away portraits and characters as in Jobs oil on canvas, introducing Steve Jobs’s portrait at the place of Jesus, holding a computer as if it was Gospels, a kind of homage to the dead engineer, or in Royal Hunger Games Mocking Jay, whereQueen Elizabeth II’s head appears in place of Jennifer Lawrence on a reinterpretation of the famous movie poster Hunger Games.

In fact, Idris Mootee is at the confluence of classical art culture painting and pop art, which is very sensitive in 2B and sister, Laura Croft and Portrait of Mario, where humor and irony are melted with a very fine study on Impressionists’ characters’ behavior and the way he can interpret and choose his own vision of their personality by introducing other elements from video games (Lara Croft orMario), from the consumer society such as in Yeezy on chair – inspired byVincent’s chair with a pipe – on which he had replaced the pipe, one of the emblems of the 19th century society, by Adidas Yeezy sneakers that refer to our own world. He has also been inspired again by cinema like in Persistence with time and space, where Dali’s Persistence of memory in the background is associated with Iron Man character.

The offset vision Idris Mootee offers and his style, close to masterpieces from 16th to 20th centuries, highlighted by his pop art approach, reveals an artist at the confluence of several cultural and painting references, with astonishing ease and control in reproducing well-known old masters’ styles and masterpieces, reemploying and adapting each work of art, managing to create his own original style and vision on classical or contemporaneous painting.

The author:  Aude NICOLAS is an art historian based in Paris. She has a PHD in Contemporary History of Art, both graduated of theUniversity and the Ecole du Louvre. She usually works on visual arts and objects related with the end of 18th and 19th century historical events, while she also studies “classical” arts.

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