Never mind the subterfuge, painting’s no profession for an assassin

by Johara Al-Rasheed

A visit to artist Market Price's new exhibition Bird Flew
“I think he’s referencing cocaine.” The woman in front of me is talking to her friend about “Bananas”an oil painting on linen, and one of the latest creations of the mysterious artist Market Price. The truth is, the best she can do is guess, with his identity hidden, she’ll never know for sure. His latest exhibition Bird Flew has drawn a considerable crowd on this beautiful day in West Hollywood. The excitement is electric, contagious. Could he be among us? Little is known about the man himself but if you look closely enough and follow the crumbs, a bigger picture begins to emerge, perhaps even of the artist himself.

“Bird in the Hand,Market Price’s best known work; is the centerpiece of the collection with “Singularity,” a Doberman Pinscher head intertwined with a Bird-of-Paradise flower, serving as the cornerstone. It’s clear that Market Price is influenced by the world as it is today: his work serves as a sort of social commentary on wealth, race, technology, and drugs. Take “Upward Mobilityfor instance, an image of nine basketball players perched on each other’s shoulders, stands tall at 192,” the singularity symbol appears multiple times in this piece, representing being “in the zone”, teamwork, solidarity, and race, then again my guess is as good as yours.

The crowd is buzzing, wondering if the artist is going to make an appearance. All eyes zero in on a hooded man walking in, could it be him? He’s snap-chatting the work. False alarm. A flight of stairs at the back of the gallery is shrouded in black; a security man stands firm at the base. People linger, trying to take a peak behind the curtain. Could Market Price be just upstairs? Nervously listening to the chatter, the adulation, and the criticisms, anxiously clutching his neat whiskey?

People gather outside, the Aerial Art Show is about to begin. A plane will circle above the exhibition site carrying a 40x40 version of “Dober bird,” of “Bird in the Handfame. Traffic slows and for a moment everyone is captivated by this fluttering bird dog framed in a perfectly clear blue sky. Someone honks and the magic is broken, we head inside for a final attempt at identifying the elusive artist.

Despite the mystery, it is known that the artist has been painting for nearly two decades although original works under the name Market Price didn’t appear till 2011. All works prior have been destroyed. The artist’s style is all his own but he is clearly influenced by artists such as Edward Hopper, more specifically his work “Nighthawks.” In a reimagining of the famous painting named “Killing Time,” Market Price places a man in the original diner, this time alone, head bent. A tiny SnapChat logo punctuates the piece along with the Singularity symbol appearing yet again.

The crowd has thinned and the security man by the stairs has left his post. It’s now or never. As we tentatively make our way up the stairs I wonder if he is truly there, Market Price in the flesh. We turn the corner. Oil paintings line the walls; here the theme is food, sex, and money with an emphasis on items such as caviar and truffles. The room is empty—no one but us, the spectators, the fans. He’s managed to do it again. Market Price will remain hidden, for the time being at least.

 

Bird Flew is on display April 30th-May 8th at 315 S. Robertson Blvd. Los Angeles. A large mural replication of “Bird in the Hand will remain through the end of 2016.