This otherwise boring pastoral scenery by Thomas Kinkade suddenly gains meaning and context with the appearance of an Imperial Star Destroyer. (Image Source: Thomas Kinkade/Jeff Bennett)
Thomas Kinkade was a famous artist, though not exactly a good one. His paintings, mass produced works of cottages, pastoral settings, and landscapes, are designed to have a cozy, home-like feel to them. However, while his skill was sound, his style was blank and boring, and designed more for people who wanted to have a "nice painting" that "tied the room together" in their homes than a work of art. Furthermore, his mass marketing approach to selling his art, while making him a rich man, made him a mockery in the art world, especially as he took on the trademarked title "Painter of Light." Now, more than a year since Thomas Kinkade died of a Valium overdose, another artist has decided to add just the right element of spark to his paintings: The armed forces of the villainous Galactic Empire in Star Wars.
As you can see in these remade Kinkade paintings, redone by Jeff Bennett, add a nice level of spice by contrasting these otherwise airy, puffy paintings the Painter of Light with the iron fist led by the Dark Side of the Force. Consider the image above. The Kinkade before was just of some nice wooden cottage that nobody builds in America at all, in a mountainous background that seems more the Alps than the Rockies. However, when you add the Imperial-I class Star Destroyer, you suddenly gain a new flavor of tension, a degree of ominous suspense. What is that Star Destroyer doing there? Is it attacking the area, as its lit-up laser cannons indicate? Should the people in the cottage be worried? Or do the lights inside the cottage indicate that they have already taken a hit by a giant laser, and Kinkade captured the cottage a split second before it exploded?
Who wouldn't want to patrol on their speeder bike through this lovely village, complete with quiet brook and sleeping Ewok?
Now, Bennett's reworkings vary, from the ominous, to the sinister, to the mere quaint. Like this picture above of Imperial Scout Troopers on a patrol over a village bridge. Simple, it adds a variety of color to the otherwise conforming nature of Imperial troops. And there's a little Ewok, just resting on the stone. A very rustic take on the daily work of Imperial stormtroopers.
But the Kinkade reworkings do more than just add purpose and meaning to the originals. It also creates a setting for George Lucas' magnum opus to mellow out and become more vibrant, rather than be filled with trite bombast and childish angst. In the end, by bouncing off each other's flaws, both Thomas Kinkade and Star Wars ascend their derivative structures and become an interesting form of art.