Exhibitionists·In Residence

The world's not sunshine and lollipops — which is exactly why you should look at these GIFs

Give your brain a break. When things get dark, Toronto-based Jacqueline Mak creates 'Baby Pop' art.

Give your brain a break. When things get dark, Jacqueline Mak creates 'Baby Pop' art

Baby Pop goes the world. Jacqueline Mak is this week's Exhibitionist in Residence. (Courtesy of the artist)

Jacqueline Mak, this week's Exhibitionist in Residence, is a Toronto-based collage artist. Her work is often dark and sexual — marked with splashes of blood and symbols alluding to themes of mental illness, pedophilia and human trafficking.

That's not what you'll see on Friday's show.

In 2017, Mak started Instagramming a series that she calls "Baby Pop," and it's as cute and fizzy as the name implies. Her collages are glitter-splashed eye candy with plenty of high-fructose subject matter: ice cream and lollipops and disco balls and stars.

As for the colour palette, think pink — and baby blue, and electric purple. It's all meant to mimic that Care Bear-ish colour-block look that's become synonymous with Instagram.

A mix of animation and stills, "Baby Pop" GIFs are always simpler than her other collages. Says Mak: "Pop art, to me, is all about a simple aesthetic."

"My full-blown collages tend to be very controversial," she says. "Oftentimes, they get me into trouble. They'll ban me on social media."

To give you an NSFW example, her 2016-17 series "The Nudes" involves dissected Penthouse pets, whose Godzilla-sized lady parts rampage from Vatican City to the Grand Canyon.

"I've been so involved in a darker aesthetic," she says.

Inspired by lazy summer days, "Baby Pop" gives her an opportunity to "move away from all the heavy stuff." Less severed dinks, more doughnuts.

Sometimes, she says: "It's time to wipe that slate clean and give myself some fun."

"There weren't any political issues involved with this series," says Mak. "They're very fun and they're poppy. They're happy."

Take a look.

(Courtesy of the artist)
(Courtesy of the artist)
(Courtesy of the artist)

(Courtesy of the artist)
(Courtesy of the artist)
(Courtesy of the artist)
(Courtesy of the artist)

Watch CBC Arts: Exhibitionists online or on CBC Television. Tune in Friday nights at 12:30am (1am NT) and Sundays at 3:30pm (4pm NT).


Leah Collins

Senior Writer

Since 2015, Leah Collins has been senior writer at CBC Arts, covering Canadian visual art and digital culture in addition to producing CBC Arts’ weekly newsletter (Hi, Art!), which was nominated for a Digital Publishing Award in 2021. A graduate of Toronto Metropolitan University's journalism school (formerly Ryerson), Leah covered music and celebrity for Postmedia before arriving at CBC.