Paintings of frightful clowns by Marion Peck urge us to face up to climate change

Red Clowns in a Landscape © Marion Peck. All images courtesy of the artist and gallery

If you're not a big fan of clowns, prepare yourself for this new body of work by pop-surrealism artist Marion Peck, featuring oil on canvas paintings of intense, face-painted characters.

"I have long enjoyed painting clowns. Clowns have depth," the Portland-based artist explains. "They are disturbing, like strange spirits, mysterious characters emerging from the depths of the psyche, which is why many people fear them. Clowns convey pure emotion. It can be very cathartic to paint them."

The paintings Peck made for Red Clown, Blue Clown allowed her to express some of the "intense, difficult feelings" she has had lately, living in these "crazy times when everything seems poised to fall apart". She says: "Sometimes it feels like all a person can do to keep from going insane is to sit back and watch it all happen, just like watching a circus."

Peck describes her new series as more political than her usual stuff. "These are strange times, and it felt somehow impossible to just carry on as usual," she continues. "I saw a talk on the psychology of climate change which impressed upon me how urgently we all need to talk about it with each other. It is just so huge of a thing that it's almost impossible to take it in, much less talk about, so we shut it out; some people to the point of denying it altogether, while most of us just push it to the backs of our minds. Even for those of us who care desperately, it's so hard to talk about…it's depressing, to say the least! I made."

On creating her artwork Red Clowns in a Landscape, Peck hoped to try to talk about climate change, and the rest of the portraits hold a similar message.

Asked whether living in Portland has had any influence on her art, Peck shares: "I think my palette has gotten darker than it was when I lived in Los Angeles. Mostly I'd say living here [Portland] is good for my work. There's nothing better than painting while it's raining outside! So peaceful and cosy."

When asked to describe the story behind some of her pieces, Peck said: "If there is a narrative to emerge from my paintings, I hope it would be just like a very short poem." Her art pieces are filled to the brim with memorable characters drawn by dreams; Peck's subjects are full of life, sometimes merely adorable, soft or extremely funny.

Red Clown, Blue Clown by Marion Peck, is currently on show at the Corey Helford Gallery in Los Angeles, running until 29 February 2020. Find out more about Peck's work at marionpeck.com.

From the series Red Clown, Blue Clown © Marion Peck

From the series Red Clown, Blue Clown © Marion Peck

From the series Red Clown, Blue Clown © Marion Peck

From the series Red Clown, Blue Clown © Marion Peck

From the series Red Clown, Blue Clown © Marion Peck

From the series Red Clown, Blue Clown © Marion Peck

From the series Red Clown, Blue Clown © Marion Peck

From the series Red Clown, Blue Clown © Marion Peck

From the series Red Clown, Blue Clown © Marion Peck

From the series Red Clown, Blue Clown © Marion Peck

From the series Red Clown, Blue Clown © Marion Peck

From the series Red Clown, Blue Clown © Marion Peck

From the series Red Clown, Blue Clown © Marion Peck

From the series Red Clown, Blue Clown © Marion Peck

From the series Red Clown, Blue Clown © Marion Peck

From the series Red Clown, Blue Clown © Marion Peck