“People used to laugh that academics would study Disney movies. There’s nothing more important for academics to study, because they shape the minds of our children possibly more than any single thing.” – Joss Wheadon
As Joss Wheadon says, there are few things that shape our minds as children more than Disney. The studio has been around for just over 90 years, now, and it has brought us some of the most iconic characters to ever be seen on screen.
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Admittedly, many of these were already around for centuries, being in fact fairytale characters, such as Snow White or the Little Mermaid, but The Walt Disney Company was the first to bring them to the silver screen, and is on of, if not the only, animation studio that has been around since the advent of animation.
After making an animates short called Alice’s Wonderland and the bankruptcy of his first studio, Laugh-O-Gram Films, Walt Disney moved to Hollywood to team up with his brother, Roy O. Disney, a venture they first called the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio. After completing the actual studio, the company changed its name to the Walt Disney Studio, in 1926.
The studio’s first real success came with the appearance of Mickey Mouse (who was first supposed to be called Mortimer). Although appearing in several cartoons, the first smash hit that featured Mickey Mouse was also Disney’s first sound film, called Steamboat Willie and released in 1928.
Disney’s meteoric rise to success continued in 1932 with the release of Flowers and Trees, a Silly Symphonies cartoon released following the exclusive contract the company signed with Technicolor. The production one the first ever Academy Award for Animated Short Subjects, and together with Mickey Mouse’s popularity, paved the way for Disney’s first full-length animation, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, in 1934.
The 40’s saw the release of some of the company’s most famous films, such as Bambi, Fantasia and Dumbo, but also the creation of propaganda and training shorts, commissioned by the American and Canadian governments. One of their propaganda films, Der Fuehrer’s Face, even won an Academy Award in 1943.
In 1950, Disney made their first live-action film, Treasure Island. The success of Treasure Island inspired the studio to make more live-action movies during the 50’s, such as The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men and 20, 000 Leagues Under the Sea. All these successes eventually lead to the release of the Academy Award-wining Mary Poppins, in 1964.
The 70’s and 80’s proved tough for the Walt Disney Company, as box office sales dwindled. There are virtually no well-known releases from this period, but the studio got back on its feet in 1988, with the release of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and landed kicking in the 90’s, releasing Disney staples such as Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King.
After the acquisition of Pixar Studios, in 2006, Disney began its plan for world domination, which gets us to the present-day Walt Disney Company, that owns things like Marvel Entertainment and Lucasfilm.
Now, after that short history lesson, let’s talk about today’s featured artist, José Rodolfo Loaiza Ontiveros.
José is a Mexican artist that specializes in putting famous Disney characters in unorthodox situations, at least for said characters. He tries to measure his viewers tolerance levels by showing beloved characters in dark, sometimes gritty and realistic situations, giving his works real shock value, and exploring the general theme of “loss of innocence”.
Starting his career in 1998 as a self-taught artist, José’s first solo show was in 2001, and since then he has been getting steady work. His formal education in art began in 2002, when he began attending various workshops, as well as starting his Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design at Itesus.
He loves being an artist, and in an interview for Gozamos.com, he stated: “The best thing is that I can be free in every sense and this allows me to communicate my ideas to many others. Art is my greatest motivation to enjoy life.”
One theme that he frequently explores is the adding of various pop-culture icons or characters into familiar scenes from Disney. This creates a sometimes-humorous, sometimes-disturbing effect, as the characters he places in said scenes are sometimes rather dark.
Its clear to see how the artist is, in a way, the sum of all the other artists that influence him, either in style or in thought. From visual artists, such as Andy Warhol and Banksy, to writers like the Marquis de Sade, Lewis Carroll and Anthony Burgess, it is not hard to see how these people influenced Ontiveros’ art. The mixing of fairytales and debauchery, all illustrated in a subversive manner, reminiscent of Banksy and Warhol.
We’ve mentioned earlier that José’s works assess our society’s tolerance. One really cool way he does it, we think, is by questioning beauty norms. We fell head-over-heals in love with the next image we are about to show you, which is a reinterpretation of the cute and helpful fairy from Peter Pan.
Everybody remembers Tinkerbell, with her short dress and her conventionally beautiful physique. Here she is reimagined as being more curvacious and also sporting a tattoo, but she is still undeniably beautiful.
Movies are an integral part of modern pop-culture. We love to see movies, we love to talk about movies, and we definitely love to think about blending movies together to create an entirely new one. The artist does this with Disney characters, drawing them into situations or narratives from movies like Kill Bill or Grindhouse.
Other times, Ontiveros just puts them into situations where they interact with other characters from cult classics, such as Edward Scissorhands and A Clockwork Orange.
In the interview we linked earlier, the artist talks about how the ideas for these juxtapositions come to him, and why he chooses movie characters for them, saying: “I feel very drawn to pop culture, and it has allowed me to do all kinds of mixtures, I constantly have ideas, and the Hollywood industry is very stimulating, so I decided to combine horror films and fairy tales, I work very hard on the details of these characters in order to bring them to fruition.”
That concludes our article on José Rodolfo Loaiza Ontiveros’ work. We hope you enjoyed this glimpse into this truly unique artist’s craft just as much as we did. Don’t forget to share your thoughts on his work and on our article, as well as posting any other Ontiveros paintings, in the comment section below.