Oftentimes, animated films give off the impression of perfect, idealized worlds. Stefan Thelen, aka Super A, uses his art to pull the veil off of these fantasies and give a glimpse of reality. He “unwraps” iconic cartoon characters and reveals what is hidden beneath. The ongoing series, titled Trapped, features acrylic renderings of Disney and Studio Ghibli worlds, with a peek at what these subjects would look like in real life.
Well-known characters, like Ariel from The Little Mermaid and San from Princess Mononoke, are stripped from their stylized forms, juxtaposing their cute appearance with a more realistic interpretation. “Working as a sculptor and painter for amusement parks like Warner and Disney, helping them to create a beautiful fake world which in the end isn't that beautiful after all. This made me realize it was time to create my own world,” Thelen explains to My Modern Met. “The Trapped series is a perfect way to show these worlds together.”
In each of these paintings, the cartoon layer is peeled from the subject in a tight spiral. This provides a contrast between the familiar version of the animated characters and the way these people and animals would come across if they were portrayed as lifelike. “The ribbon in the series represents a mask which we hide behind,” Thelen adds. “This space between gives space to peek out and show a small part of ourselves.”