Brendan Monroe’s Sour Sculptures

By placing an incomplete humanoid face on the vague shape of fruit, Brendan Monroe didn’t simply imbue his Sour creations with personality, he made them exude emotion. Denied even the subtlest definition of a mouth, the slant of their brows and the shape of their eyes became essential aspects in each and every Sour work’s expressiveness. And, even in their earliest iterations, these elements seemed to convey a contemplative sadness.

Origins of the Sour

Conceived of while Monroe was attending the ArtCenter College of Design, at a point when he “was making paintings with trees that had faces in them”, the artist recalls that the “next step was to make the fruit of the trees have faces too, which turned into the Sour characters”. Becoming the focal creations of Monroe’s first published narratives, The Sour Crop (2003), The Sour Harvest (2004), and Sour Leaves (2006), these minicomics “sort of explained and played with their personality and existence”, divulges the artist. “They grow and adventure”, Monroe explains of these overriding premise behind these publications, “and, somehow, return to where they came from in the end”. And by having their journeys come full circle, the reader is left to ponder what exacty comes next for the Sour characters.

The Sour as Sculpture, Wood & Resin

Around 2004 and 2005, Monroe created a variety of Sour sculptures by hand in wood as well as in resin. “I just found it really fun to realize the characters”, he explains, to make “them part of our own world and scale”. Maintaining a rough-hewn quality throughout these forms, granting a sense of them being hand-carved wood to even the resin cast multiples, Monroe attests that he “hand-painted each one”, instilling “an element of hand production” regardless of the material used. And while this method emphasized the individual uniqueness of each, allowing Monroe to vary the imbued emotional sense they carried, the next sculptural iteration would forego this to produce a more traditional edition.

The Sour as Sculpture, Vinyl

Though creating uniqueness in every one of the 1000 factory-produced vinyl renditions of Monroe’s Sour wasn’t possible, this Dave Pressler sculpted version had four color variations, each with their own facial decorations and stalk toppers. The brown and green editions, each limited to 400 pieces, as well as the orange version, which was limited to 100 pieces exclusive to the producer Glen Liberman‘s Android 8 venture, were all initially displayed at San Diego Comic-Con in 2005. The final coloration, the 100 piece red edition made expressly for Munky King, debuted in 2006, the year all four versions became publicly available. Manufactured by Derek Welch & Jason Bacon’s UNKL Brand on the behalf of Android 8, these vinyl sculptures featured an interchangeable face element, an aspect that Monroe’s wood and resin cast versions did not include. And lurking underneath the face plates of each was a decoration mimicking the appearance of an original sketch, granting the illusion of further uniqueness. It also served, of course, as a reminder that sometimes it’s important to look beneath the surface of things, as that can be where the adventure continues.

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