Like most recurring characters in his work, Mark Mothersbaugh’s Roli Polis derive from images that were initially drawn on postcard-size paper. The ceramic men with oversize hands and tufts of baby hair are just a few members of a large and eclectic cast that populates Mothersbaugh’s enormous diary
The Roli Polis capture several aspects of the artist’s interests.
Suggestive of both factory-like production and amateur painting, they point to Mothersbaugh’s interest in the tension between the mechanical and
the organic. Their cartooned bodies and eyes, signature elements of Mothersbaugh’s drawings, also reveal the influence of the underground comics movement, a small-press network that rose to prominence in the late 1960s, when Mothersbaugh was emerging as an artist. Appearing like mutations
of commercially produced toys, the Roli Polis represent the artist’s cartoonish version of pop art.
When the Roli Polis were exhibited for the first time in the installation
Spin Chain the Gears (Museo de Arte de Zapopan, Guadalajara, 2014),
they were presented on a synthetic lawn, laid out on square-dancing diagrams as if the sculptures themselves were engaged in one of the dance’s complicated steps. The square dancing reference is consistent with Mothersbaugh’s oeuvre. The popular pastime is a highly rule-bound form of dance but the culture that surrounds it has largely become niche and nerdy. This combination perfectly corresponds with Mothersbaugh’s ongoing interest in balancing order and deviance.