heARTbeat: Troy Gua’s Pop Hybrids as Recycled Icons

“Everything has its beauty but not everyone sees it.” – Andy Warhol

Troy Gua‘s Pop Hybrids could be mistaken for colorful Rorschach tests or clever optical illusions. What Gua is actually doing is taking pop icons, mashing them up, and standing back to see if we can guess who’s who.

Borrowing heavily from Andy Warhol’s famous iconography of celebrities, Gua’s Hybrids stop us short with the question: Who is that?

Gua says of his work:

Pop Hybrids are about, among other things, reduction: the reduction of personality into logo, the reduction of individuality into the collective, the reduction of photography into design. They are a subtraction of images: the recycling, re-using and reducing of two or more images into one iconographic collection of shapes.

From Boy George to Ronald Reagan, Jack Kennedy to Divine, Gua tricks our eye into believing we have seen these combinations before, though certainly never together.

Blogger Joey Veltkamp sums it up beautifully:

“They’re really striking and they’re hard to read, so you really have to visually investigate. Then you realize that it’s both John Wayne and Elton John superimposed over each other. Which is funny in and of itself, but then you realize that John Wayne was an avowed homophobe while Elton John is an avowed homosexual. Funny and smart.”

Show us your smarts.  How many of the icons can you spot (without cheating)? Leave us a comment, and at the end of the week we will publish the identities of all the Pop Hybrids, and the best spotter among you.

Pop Hybrid images: The Artist Currently Known as Troy Gua, Photo of Troy Gua by Hayley Young


Eco, trends, art, creativity and how they tumble through social media to shape culture fascinate EcoSalon columnist Dominique Pacheco. Her trends blog, mixingreality, speaks to these topics daily, and here at EcoSalon, she takes a weekly look at the intersection of eco and art. We call it heARTbeat.

Dominique Pacheco

Dominique Pacheco is the author of EcoSalon's weekly heARTbeat column.