Stefen Thelen, also known by his anti-superhero alias, Super A, is a Dutch artist that specializes in murals and studio paintings. His works frequently blur the line between fiction and non-fiction, a common theme seen within his pieces and murals. This exhibition, The Other Way Around, is part of a larger body of work called Trapped — an investigation meant to unmask the truth surrounding fantasy. An example of this can be seen in his piece, The Fifth Month, where he paints the main characters from My Neighbor Totoro. At first glance, the viewer immediately recognizes the iconic characters but upon further inspection, the illusion dissipates, revealing a hyperrealistic translation of these figures.
Super A utilizes imagery that harkens back to famous figures in fantasy, cartoon, and pop culture archetypes. In this case, an archetype can be defined as, “the original pattern or model of which all things of the same type are representations or copies.” His works frequently feature these representations from well-known movies or TV shows like Toy Story, Spirited Away, The Little Mermaid, and more. The Other Way Around utilizes these archetypes by comparing their physicality by splicing realistic renditions within the confines of the fantastical — revealing the threshold between reality and fiction. This visual metaphor serves as a means of dissecting the pretense behind pop culture mythology with the interest of exploring the objective history and truth behind their narrative.
About the artist: Stefen Thelen, otherwise known by his anti-superhero alter-ego, Super A, is a Dutch artist who specializes in a hyper-realistic and surrealist style. His alter ego was born out of his previous background as a graffiti artist and serves as a vessel for his more controversial interrogations of society — allowing for a more objective lens for his artistic analysis.
Super A officially started his artistic career in 2004 but before then, he would work in amusement parks where he would gain first-hand experience in the creation of fantasy for the general public. This experience would inform his future work, working to unravel the distinction between reality and illusion. The tension found between two opposing ideas is a common thread seen within his work, namely his Trapped series. The Other Way Around is a continuation of this series and demonstrates the distinction between reality and the facade, revealing the truth behind the metaphorical mask.
Stefan Thelen is a street and gallery artist based in the Netherlands who graduated from Graphic Lyceum in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Super A’s murals and works have been featured in galleries around the world including Germany, London, Paris, Belgium, The Netherlands, Spain, and the United States, among others. Super A’s mural was painted as part of Antelope Valley Walls! (formerly POW!WOW! Antelope Valley) in 2018. The mural is located at Lancaster Blvd in Lancaster, California.