The Artist Who Inspired The Upside Down


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First things first: if you haven’t watched Stranger Things yet, go watch it.

I know people are always telling you to watch stuff, but you really, really should watch this show. I don’t like getting sucked into serials either (Really Weeds– eight seasons? Get serious), but Stranger Things is so, so worth it. I’m not shitting you, I’ve watched the first and only season twice, and both times I watched it in a day. And I’m no bonged-out couch potato. Anymore. Go watch the show.

For those of you who have seen the show, I want to introduce you to the artist whose work inspired The Upside Down (the evil, parallel dimension that co-exists with our own; watch the show for fucksakes). His name is–or was, he’s dead now–Zdzisław “Get Your Own Alphabet” Beksiński, and he was Polish, and his artworks are amazing.

Born in 1929, Beksiński was a painter, photographer and sculptor, but it’s his paintings that the Stranger Things creators modeled The Upside Down on. Surreal, dystopian, beautiful and disturbing, Beksiński’s work begs the question–What’s it all about? Apparently, he never had an answer. In fact the question annoyed him very much, and he was dismissive of critics who tried to glean ‘meaning’ from his work. I think he just painted whatever weird shit was in his head. Good enough.

Despite the bleakness of Beksiński’s work, from all reports he was a cheerful fellow who enjoyed a chat, not to mention that joke that ends with the drunk saying, “Anyone who can lift their leg that high has got to be a ballerina!” But, while his life was filled with joy and ribald humor, it didn’t end on a very happy note—in 2005 he was found stabbed 17 times in his Warsaw flat. Two teenagers (one of them the son of his caretaker) murdered him when he refused to loan them roughly $100. Sad.

Anyways, check out his work. And go watch Stranger Things again.

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