His name may not be entirely familiar just yet to Americans, but the UK-based artist Skeleton Cardboard is well known within both the underground and mainstream European street art circuit. Adorning the walls of buildings in trendy London boroughs like Shoreditch and Bethnal Green, his works are instantly recognizable by the alien-like skeletons that dance across the painted scene. Even by street art standards, his is a truly unique style, one which defies any easy categorization- and that is precisely what we love about it. A little Keith Haring, mixed with a little Basquiat, and an extra ounce of edge and cynicism, and you have Skeleton Cardboard.
Given his propensity for rendering eerie, waif-like skeletons and bloated skulls, his works could easily veer off in the direction of the overly macabre. But the inherent darkness of his iconography is offset by his increasing use of vibrant colors and written phrases that are deliberately comical in their sheer pessimism. While he continues to paint skeletons set against his trademark black and white background, surrounded by compositional elements of the same scheme, he has also recently begun to incorporate loud, contrasting colors into his works. Bright blues, reds, oranges, and yellows send waves of electricity through his figures, jolting them to life and dancing alongside them, creating a paradoxical harmony between lively colors and sardonic subjects. The end result is a wild, street art dreamt version of the Danse Macabre- a genre of art that became popular during the Middle Ages in the aftermath of the Black Plague. Danse Macabre scenes often featured skeletons alongside human counterparts as a way to remind audiences of the universality, and inescapability, of death. Skeleton Cardboard’s works feel like both an homage to and satire of this long established genre, yet rather than serving as a grim reminder of death, his works seem to say: We’re all going to die at some point, so let’s have some fun, shall we?