The British artist Dean Stockton, a.k.a., D*Face, has developed one of the most recognizable and epic bodies of street art to grace the world’s urban landscapes. His work evolved from the a series of noteook doodles of weird, comic, anthropomorphic humaoid creatures. Then he started making stickers of this artwork, eventually moving on to the more familiar and popular street art medium of wheatpaste posters and, later, paintings, massive murals and sculptural objects. A prime example of one of these larger-than-life murals is the one pictured here in Culver City, in Los Angeles. It’s titled “Going Everywhere Fast” and can be found on the side of the Corey Helford Gallery on Washington Blvd.
DFace’s work reminds us a lot of the post-modern pop art of Roy Lichtenstein. The parallels in the graphical, comic style are unmissable. Where Lichtenstein found inspiration and material from the inky, pixel-dotted soap-opera comics of American newspapers of the 1950s and ’60s, Stockton’s style has the smoother look of the contemporary graphic novel and its richly-printed rendering of scanned drawings. Lichtenstein often made the texts of the comics a crticial part of the artwork. He included the characters’ short dialogues and internal monolgues that appeared as speech and thought bubbles in the comic. This added a dimension of irony, drama, commentary or amusement (sometime all at once) and gave deeper meaning to the visual. D*Face’s works, on the other hand, usually don’t have speech or thought bubbles. It is left to the viewer to imagine what the chacacters are thinking.
Some visual themes have emerged in DFace’s style. A lot of these recent murals features a man and a women, a couple with their relationship implied but unclear. There are cars or motrocycles included. Motion and speed are suggested in the compositions. The woman is a pale blond bombshell. A sad or worried expression is on her face. She displays freakish antler-like white wings sticking out from the sides of her head, which refers back to the charcaters of D*Face’s earliest drawings. The man is shown as slightly grotesque, his skin green like a Frankenstein and his face serious and etched with hard wrinkles.
The popular appeal of DFace’s artwork is obvious. It is an easy visual read, accessible and poignant. He has benefited from having his work exposed to an audience beyond the galleries and streets, beyond followers of contemporary art or street art scenes. Fans of American pop-punk band Blink-182 will recognize D*Face’s artwork on the cover of their recent 2016 album “California.”