Matt Gondek and Brian Gonnella draw together 

"We both grew up in comic books and cartoons of the same nature, so our styles just blend well together."

Somewhere between pop-culture consumerism and the contents of a 15-year-old's brain lies the most recent work by Matt Gondek and Brian Gonnella. The local artists collaborated on collages of epic proportions for their joint exhibit Big Bang, now at The Shop, in Bloomfield. Having grown up on a steady diet of cartoons, video games, comic books and the American inundation of logos and brand spokescharacters, they've brought all those influences to the canvas, with each artist incorporating his own twists and sense of humor.

"We share a lot of common interests," says Gondek. "We both grew up in comic books and cartoons of the same nature, so our styles just blend well together."

Gondek and Gonnella met last year, while participating in the first Pittsburgh edition of RAW, a multidisciplinary arts event. From there, the collaboration grew organically.

"We started doing this [series] called Drink & Draw, which was us getting together every Tuesday and Wednesday to drink and draw," explains Gondek. "Then we had the idea to do a live painting thing at Art All Night this year, and it went over really well. ... And we sold the painting for charity and got a lot of money for it."

Matt Gondek (left) and Brian Gonella
  • Photo courtesy of Jerome Charles
  • Matt Gondek (left) and Brian Gonella

"It was just like a big collage, it was like 5-by-5 [feet], I think," he adds. "We just painted a bunch of stuff. Just anything little that popped in our heads. Because it got [a] good reception, we thought we should have a whole show of it. That's what the art show, Big Bang, stemmed from."

At once a statement about the strength of Pittsburgh's collaborative creative culture and a demonstration of the power of the city's many art-driven events, Big Bang is more than a showcase for humorous cartoon collages. Each piece in the show focuses on a different theme, from anime to Nintendo characters. With each collage, Gondek and Gonnella created an entire world, making artwork you can look at in a new way time and time again.

Fortunately for the artists — but unfortunately for you — all of the works in Big Bang had been sold by the night of the Aug. 1 opening party. But you can still check them out at The Shop, which doubles as a concert venue, during events through month's end.



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