I don’t know what I just looked at. It involved a Nintendo 64 controller, that much is for certain. But then, what else? I believe there were dinosaurs? Gadgets? Disembodied breasts? I can’t say for certain. I just remember a psychedelic fever dream, one seen through a 13-year-old male gaze. Or perhaps a glimpse into the id of the internet itself.
This is what it’s like to explore the work of Daniel Keogh, a 22-year-old self-taught illustrator out of Bendigo, Australia. His pieces are visual onslaughts of internet memes, famous cartoon characters, and a whole lot of other free-association 1990s kid junk piled in, too.
“I suppose I’m just going for a sensory overload, whether it’s by color or sheer volume of content,” says Keogh. “I just want my art to make people stop and look, to be so full of information it’s undeniable.”
In another frame, I see a portrait of Jesus next to an AR15, next to a coconut drink, next to the Facebook Like button, next to a pink sprinkled donut. It’s like piles and piles of the familiar references of pop artists, told through the lens of social media sensibilities. It’s like the piece visualizes the daily online struggle of caring about gun control, someone else’s beach photos, and a ‘grammable dessert all in split-second scrolling succession.
At first glance, the pieces appear to be pure chaos, but while the content is certainly random at times, the way Keogh actually constructs his layouts is akin to making a mandala. Over three days of drawing with a pen, Keogh works from a center focal point outward, carefully balancing each side with column shapes to ensure a sense of structure and symmetry. (Color is added digitally once the ink is scanned into a computer.)
His most striking montage may be an overwhelming pile of heads called Meme Supreme. It shows every animated and cartoon personality from the past decade in one gigantic frame, from Arthur, to Naruto, to Bart Simpson, to Piccolo, to Pepe the Frog, to Yoshi. Across the frame, Keogh effortlessly mocks anime and PBS cartoons alike. “A lot of my earliest memories are sitting at kitchen tables trying to replicate images from Mad Magazine, so I think that’s where the ability to draw cartoons has come from,” says Keogh.