L. R. Emerson II

Currently, I not only use my Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) graduate experiences to guide me in ongoing definitive art practices, but also in post-graduate research. 2012 marks the 29th Anniversary of my published, multi-directional artistic style named Masg, from Gaelic meaning to mix; or infuse. Masg is better known as Upside-Down Art.

Using key segments of my research, I published the Purple Tree: Art in a Boundless Age, 2009 which documents the evolutionary process and changes my artmaking has undergone since 1984.

In reflection, I see whereby I survived the chaotic art transitions many of us experienced in the 1980’s to later realize my own pioneering exploration has since changed the very way other artists and photographers compose their work.

For thirty years, I have strived to revolutionize the art world by compelling artists, historians, critics and conservators to embrace changes the trident compositional “norm” that dominates artmaking today. Enduring decades of artistic experimentation, I have set a mark which today compels others to challenge compositional truisms. Simply put, I have provided a firm rationale to insist that art education texts worldwide need revision!

Recently internationally acclaimed artist Georg Baselitz commented he found my work Upside-Down Art “…inspiring” which is encouraging noting Baselitz’ own art has sold for as much as $4.2 million dollars at auction and is equally unusual.

Since 2005, my work has been exposed to a world audience. In 2011, I produced Upside-Down Art for Leon Russell who was inducted with support from musical collaborator Sir Elton John into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Working in the in the mid 1980’s as an advertising designer connected me with performers and entrepreneurs. Initially, I attended Platt College in 1985 and five years later delighted in seeing my artwork presented on stage to Grammy Winning singer/songwriter Leon Russell who later invited me to work for him.

Keeping active in the arts, I have functioned in many varied design environments including printing and publishing, fashion design, advertising sales and design, photography, fine arts exhibition and art education.

Historically, we hold that three primary balances exist for arranging subjects within the picture plane; Symmetrical Balance, Asymmetrical Balance and Radial balance.

This is fine, but as a student artist living in the early 1980’s the limited choices of compositional balance left me feeling artistically confined. Contrarily, against my teacher’s advice I elected to design my compositions by solving the subjects from multiple directions. Determined to find my own road, I literally turned my artwork upside-down at a time when averting the compositional truism was neither taught nor accepted.

Despite rejection, I began to simply devise my subsequent visual riddles from multiple directions.

I continued into the mid 1980’s making hundreds and later thousands of works – continuing to experiment with compositional variants. This pioneering exploration of the compositional realm subsequently lead me to cultivate 37, new documented artmaking methods which overall are my primary contribution to art in the 20th and 21st Century.

In 2005, after having been kept secret for over two decades, Masg or Upside-Down Art was introduced to more than 500 galleries and in excess of 50 renowned museums worldwide including:

National Gallery and Tate Museum, London
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Musée du Louvre, Paris
The Museum of Modern Art, NYC
Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Since 2005, my family and I have seen other artists and photographers navigate toward designing from multi-directional vantages. Things were different however when I started. The art world and the web was completely void of any evidence of any artist working upside-down other than Georg Baselitz who was featured in 1984 in the Los Angeles Times with his neo-expressionist paintings and early 20th century cartoonist Gustave Verbeek.

Since graduation, my VCU studio and pedagogical practices challenge me to centralize my artistic effort; thus I am refining my 30 year artistic journey and focusing on definitive research involving art education and composition.

Transversely, whereas real world experiences have enhanced my teaching practices it has been through my VCU study where I’ve realized the best skill I possess is the ability to confidently and effectively imbue my passion for artmaking. It is all about being able to pass along my passion in the end.

My quest has simply been striving to carve out new avenues of expression through experimentation, innovation and invention.

L. R. Emerson II
One image, Two Views ™
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