‘Misery Loves Company’: Depicting Existential Angst in Astonishing Comic Hues

May 23, 2024



Elle Yap

Misery Loves Company, the new exhibit from Modeka Art, showcases the collaborative work between visual artists RaiseHell and Wham. The works extract meaning from society’s collective misery as the two artists use their art styles to find some sort of comfort in the sadness that surrounds them. 

“Here, misery serves as a conceptual thought that contrastingly propels them to form a deeper and personal connection with themselves and other people,” the write-up for the exhibit said. 

Some of the paintings featured for "Misery Loves Company." Photo by Elle Yap.
Some of the paintings featured for “Misery Loves Company.” Photo by Elle Yap.

Pulp- and Retro-Influenced Art

RaiseHell and Wham find common ground in their artistic works. RaiseHell’s works are inspired by punk and pop art and have a kind of dynamic motion embedded into them, akin to panels in vintage comic books. Meanwhile, Wham’s work uses relatively straightforward poses that look good in stillness without reducing the emotional expression of the pieces. 

Together, both artists work in tandem to create artworks that revolve around the theme of misery, and finding solace and peace within them. RaiseHell’s works for the exhibit demonstrate this sense of fullness and motion in expressing their sadness. 

"Exit Strategy" by RaiseHell. Photo by Elle Yap.
“Exit Strategy” by RaiseHell. Photo by Elle Yap.

“Exit Strategy,” for example, portrays the grieving creature as a broken piece of pottery with a pensive look on their face. They seem to stare up at a fluttering butterfly as they break apart, and the gesture feels monumental in context of the piece. It certainly expresses itself well as the first time someone finds their world broken and splintered apart.

"Undercurrents" by WHAM. Photo by Elle Yap.
“Undercurrents” by WHAM. Photo by Elle Yap.

Meanwhile, Wham’s “Undercurrents” evokes a similar feeling of dejection as “Exit Strategy.” The central figure looks somberly ahead as fish swim around them. But the subject  also has a thoughtful expression that hints more at boredom than sadness; a world-weariness that seems to have built itself up from previous experiences. 

There’s hopefulness in both of the paintings, but the two artists approach it in different ways. One pushes for hope in an uncertain situation, while the other finds calmness in experience. All the paintings in this exhibit have that sense of conversation between the works. Both artists seem to work on the same emotional feelings and arrive at different depictions on the topic. 

Misery in Introspection

The central messaging of the exhibit is about the hopefulness of change, even as we go through terrible situations ourselves. There’s a strong sense of introspection in the paintings about how we navigate change. More than that, it shows how finding people who have experienced similar things gives us comfort to find ourselves and to move forward with a renewed sense of confidence for the future.

Two paintings exhibited for "Misery Loves Company." Photo by Elle Yap.
Two paintings exhibited for “Misery Loves Company.” Photo by Elle Yap.
Two paintings exhibited for "Misery Loves Company." Photo by Elle Yap.
Two paintings exhibited for “Misery Loves Company.” Photo by Elle Yap.
Another pair of paintings exhibited for "Misery Loves Company." Photo by Elle Yap.
Another pair of paintings exhibited for “Misery Loves Company.” Photo by Elle Yap.

“The exhibit proposes the possibility of self-transformation through compassion and introspection as both artists reimagine emotions of discomfort through the lens of optimism and resilience,” the write-up said. 

Peace and Collective Action

"W.I.P." by RaiseHell. Photo by Elle Yap.
“W.I.P.” by RaiseHell. Photo by Elle Yap.

Works like RaiseHell’s “W.I.P.” and Wham’s “Inner Peace Garden” rally those feelings of peace and collective action into a cohesive whole. The first one shows two figures in the midst of a hug as they hold up tools of reform and repair. The second one shows a figure in a crouching position, an expression of defiant happiness on their face as they seem to float into a state of bliss. 

"Inner Peace Garden" by WHAM. Photo by Elle Yap.
“Inner Peace Garden” by WHAM. Photo by Elle Yap.

Altogether, they give the message of peace as a painful, worthwhile endeavor. It’s an endeavor that needs to be taken to task as they navigate the future. 

Misery Loves Company conceives of a world of dynamic movement and expression, a world where one is unafraid to show their pain—but more importantly, unafraid to find the help they need to move forward. 

Related reading: Emerging Artists Create Expressions on Canvas

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