Photo · Drawing · Painting

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McKean’s work is impressive – as is his comprehensive engagement with the visual arts. Known most widely perhaps for his innovative, painterly, graphic novel illustration he has spent creative talent –to my knowledge– on sculpture, video, film, book illustration, self-initiated print projects, and, of course, photography.

McKean is concentrated on the image and only secondarily in photographic technique.

He is singularly concentrated on the content, the meaning of the image. And this meaning is to be experienced and sought for in the deepest of our dreams, hopes and aspirations.

These photographs began after visiting a series of folk festivals in my home county of Kent, England. Beyond the Morris men and clog dancers, I became aware of the strange, raggle-taggle strain of clans and troupes - black faced, baring hurdy-gurdy’s and willow staffs - that invade the pubs and public squares of host villages. I started photographing these creatures and quickly began imagining other, less common peoples – masks and markings that represent the weather, or the state of mind, or the landscape, or the madness of we human tribes.



pl. folk or folks


1.1 – Photographs of the common people of a society or region considered as the representatives of a way of life and especially as the originators or carriers of the customs, beliefs, and arts that make up a distinctive culture: the image of a leader who came from the pholk.

1.2 – Archaic photographs of a people.

2. Informal photographs of people in general. Often used in the plural: Pholks around here are very mighty strange.

3. Of, occurring in, or originating among the common people: pholk culture; a photograph of a folk hero.

4. A monograph of such images by Dave McKean.

[Middle English, from Old English photogram and folc]



While the name of Dave McKean does not circulate widely in the world of photography, his name becomes more and more significant when speaking of illustration, graphic novels or editorial design.

In these fields, Dave McKean–the cover designer of Miracleman, Hellblazer and The Sandman, the comic book artist of Arkham Asylum and Signal to Noise, the creator of Cages–is nothing but a celebrity.


McKean composes his works by playing and experimenting with emotions, building pieces that
unhinge the senses and fuel fears by enveloping the observer in an exquisite form of suffering.
Dave McKean, creator of the most beautiful terror, knows no limits. Perhaps because his imagination appears to be similarly boundless. McKean stretches out all of his abilities to places other authors cannot reach, and if someone tells him the most powerful.

Although he plays with composition/decomposition, McKean is generous and honest with his references. He is explicit about the themes represented, keeping the titles of the films and the name of the directors. He does not want to break away from the previous fantasy, but to bring new stories to life through his drawings, together with reconstructed characters from which hybrid creatures emerge, laden with symbolism and messages, just as each piece concentrates overlapping techniques, strokes, blotches, and marks that add meaning and interpretations. Artistic creations that do not escape the semantic richness of advertising posters or graphic design and which expose the very nature of a language and a profession the artist has not left behind and which he has mastered entirely.

His works present a rich and free palette, as befits a true master of technique, seasoned in the art of collage and body language, with avant-garde geometries and aboriginal stylisations, a wonderful compendium of artistic, cinematographic and design knowledge, harnessed to narration and synthesis. Some pieces appear to be sewn, hooked, glued, even battered, giving them a hardness that enriches the subject portrayed; and his drawings, monochrome and apparently simpler and purer, contain the intense strokes of a brush that hits the paper and completes these hard forms, giving the impression they were imprinted by a wooden stamp carved by an ancestral artist. There is a febrile and primal sense of spontaneity, that of one who knows, who studies, who has questioned the styles and has decided to dismantle them, cite them or save them on a whim, imprinting upon all of them a gestural and emotional intensity that captivates the viewer from the very first glance.

Dave McKean's artistic wisdom flows out beyond our visual field. If we could just fix our gaze on the pictures alone, we could remain calm; the extraordinary thing is that those visions force us to shift our gaze and glance out of the corner of our eye to spot an intangible form we think we have seen, wandering around us, just before the shiver runs down our spine.

Inmaculada Corcho