August 10, 2017

Fork, Frida, and Freedom

FridaValuing the element of Chance as championed by Dadaism became adopted by Surrealism ... where artists like Max Ernst, Salvador Dali and Andre Breton were pursuing art that emerged from the unconscious dream-state rather than the conscious state. Dali went as far as wearing a folded fork as a necklace so that when he nodded off to sleep while seated, the fork would poke him awake at the chin, allowing him to quickly capture images from his dream.

One such Dali painting ... of a landscape with melting clocks sure does seem like a dream. Nevertheless, it is a painting that works because he had the technical skills to paint that landscape and melting clocks. Skills that were acquired in a conscious reality.

Though surrealists wanted to induct Frida Kahlo into the fold as they saw her dreamy paintings as surrealist in nature, Kahlo is famous for saying to surrealist leaders that she never painted dreams but that she painted her reality ... of bottomless pain, heartache and agony.

Surrealism was in tandem to Abstract Expressionism which caught fire in the US after WWII when experimental artists from the world moved to the US to pursue freedom of expression, and rebel against the stranglehold that reverence for realism (and end product) had on the art world.

Whereas painters of realism were more about methods that would let the work speak and the artist be silent, abstract expressionists like Jackson Pollock wanted to be heard, his process to be heard, and for the process to gain equal or even more important footing than the end result. 

There is this balance in my art practice that makes me relate to the idea of rebelling against strict rules and methods like surrealists and abstract expressionists. Like leave me alone already ... and don't tell me what do do or how to do it. But the other side of that for me is that if in fact in my dream state or my imagination I see melting clocks ... or a boat with a ladder to the moon or something even more unconventional, I need to have the skills to do so ... if I want others see what I see. 

So what is freedom? My ability to do what I want? My ability to learn and practice new skills? I think both are elements of it. Freedom, that is.



August 09, 2017

543 Veiled in the Minor Key

My543 Veiled in the Minor Key
6x8 inches :: original oil painting on gessobord
Click here to Bid or Buy Now
I referenced a photo as captured by @my_secret_dream2 for this work and with this song by @latenightalumni obsessively on repeat and beautifully in the air:

SUN SPACE (#latenightalumni)
I take the waves in waves
I call my "one more day"

I cut and paste
Hang up these days
And hide the walls with no white space
I don't need space, I don't

So I remain
The days; a sound that repeats
And I keep my face
Veiled in the minor key

#allaprima #dailypainting #representationalabstract

August 08, 2017

Beauty and Function

UtilityMarcel Duchamp (1887-1968) was an American-French painter who liked mocking high art. He is famous for installing everyday objects like a snow shovel, a urinal and other things into gallery settings to ignite discourse about what is and isn't art. His thought was that if we just look at a snow shovel as an object of utility, we won't recognize its aesthetic qualities. Similarly, Christo Javacheff (1935-   ) is a Bulgarian artist who removes the utilitarian aspect of a thing ... usually by wrapping it in fabric in order for the viewer to see the aesthetics of the thing, without bias that can be related to its function.

Then there are abstract artists like Mark Rothko and Piet Mondrian and Kazimir Malevich and Gerhard Richter who didn't wrap objects or hang urinals in galleries but presented fields of color and other abstracted expressions in an effort to move away from the "baggage" associated with representational paintings and/or realism.  Meh.

It's not that I dislike such works. Especially Rothko. I actually love his works. The thing about abstract work (especially contemporary abstract art) is that I'm dubious about whether the art reflects any real skills or any real message. You know ... like the "sewist" who makes a hot mess with fabrics in the name of "freeform" and "be free there's no mistake in art" ... when actually the person doesn't have basic sewing skills and so it's about avoiding certain stitches rather than reinventing/abstracting them ... it bothers me.

Dada-ists would argue back to me that chance is more important than skill. The point being that if art is to reflect life, not everything in a work should be planned and derived from skill. That chance/accidents happen in life ... and that therefore art ought to make room for it too. Touché.

All of these thoughts were dancing in my head while I was washing the dishes. And looking at my cutting board that is used and washed about 6 times a day in our house. Even without wrapping it like Christo or hanging it in a gallery like Duchamp ... wouldn't you agree that it is both utilitarian AND beautiful?






August 05, 2017

Captures in the Wild

BlacklivesmatterI've been reading about the history of photography. Did you know that in its infancy (the early 1800s), photography sought to mimic paintings which is why early photos show models posed the way painters would have posed them? It isn't until the late 1800s that the photograph development process evolved from a wet to dry process, allowing photographers to leave the studio and shoot images in the wild ... less like traditional paintings. Such advances allowed photographers to become artists/activists and present startling images ... scenes from wars, The Great Depression, crimes, riots, etc. These images that I think are simultaneously science and art, beautiful and ugly, real and (as Susan Sontag would argue) edited and framed (like everything in the world). 

Fast forward to now ... where practically everybody has the ability to capture and share images.

As a painter, I find it fascinating ... the circling back ... where my practice utilizes photos that I reference to make paintings. Of course there is also an artistic license that a painter holds ... to exaggerate or abstract the reference, and perhaps invoke magical realism to then cause the photo reference to be one of the many ingredients to create a new work of art altogether.

Last night I saw a one-woman art performance by Vivian Bang, where she revisits the complex facets of the 1992 LA Riots, where the world was inundated with photos and videos from the wild ... of police brutality suffered by Rodney King ... of that brutality shockingly exonerated by a jury ... of the violence that erupted after the exoneration ... of that violence being ironically and tragically targeted toward Korean Americans and their businesses ... and all that. 

This year, there was the Women's March that I proudly participated in. Of the many photos from the march that I saw, this one made me weep. This one of young Asian Americans holding a Love = #blacklivesmatter poster. It made me weep because I wanted to hug the parents of these youth who have raised them right. That in spite of ironic conflicts among minority communities in the past (fueled by irrational skapegoating), it is still the right thing to do to teach our youth what is right and what is wrong. It makes me wonder ... what will these youth be doing 10 0r 20 years from now when a photographer captures them in a new frame? Standing up for right, is my guess. My hope. 

(PC: Nick Holmes, Women's March Los Angeles 2017 book)



August 03, 2017

542 Miguel with Spoon

Miguel542 Miguel with Spoon
8x10 inches :: original oil painting on gessobord
Click here to Bid or Buy Now
The other day, I did an ink-on-paper study of a photo that I took of my friend Miguel. Today, I referenced that study to make this painting. We had been in a restaurant discussing the importance of  artists' pursuit of weird and also the value of that weird trailing back to the origins of our authentic selves. Anyway ... during the photo shoot, the natural light was so good and I thought having him hold a spoon to his face would allow some of that light to be captured in a cool way. And so that's what happened.

August 01, 2017

541 The Offering

Offering541 The Offering
8x10 inches :: original oil painting on gessobord
Click here to Bid or Buy Now
Yesterday, I did an ink on paper study referencing a photo of @ohbowen as captured by @martabevacqua. That study was done using a different approach to drawing than my usual. Today I referenced that sketch to make this painting, also using a different approach to drawing than my usual. In the middle of my process, it started pouring rain for a few brief minutes. It was just the most beautiful and brief moment.

July 31, 2017

540 Breakdown

Moi540 Breakdown
8x10 inches :: original oil painting on gessobord
Click here to Bid or Buy Now

I referenced an image of moi as captured by @narcissusholmes for this work. Every day I wonder whether I'm taking enough risks artistically ... whether I let myself fully "go there" or whether I chicken out in the process. This wondering sometimes gets me to a point where I feel like an overripe plum about to burst under the sun. I recently expressed this angst to a friend and she replied "Oh, that's going to be a delicious explosion." I thanked her for that wonderful response. It's ok to explode once in a while, right? And to have occasional breakdowns, right? 

BREAKDOWN (#JackJohnson)
I hope this old train breaks down
Then I could take a walk around
And, see what there is to see
And time is just a melody
All the people in the street
Walk as fast as their feet can take them
I just roll through town
And though my windows got a view
the frame I'm looking through
Seems to have no concern for now
So for now
I need this
Old train to breakdown
Oh please just
Let me please breakdown

July 29, 2017

539 The Pursuit

Pusuit539 The Pursuit
18x24 inches :: original acrylic painting and collage on stretched canvas
With ink on paper, I had done a sketch of a female figure in a similar pose several weeks ago. I referenced that sketch to make this painting. Once the painting was done, I had this curiosity about how collage might interact with the work and so I added touches of it. Very rarely this curiosity for collage visits me ... and very rarely I let it in.

July 28, 2017

538 Korean Operetta

She Swallowed Korea538 Korean Operetta
24x18 inches :: original acrylic painting on stretched canvas
Click here to (you know what)

I made a sketch of a creature bloated with the South Korean flag several years ago ... it was inspired after seeing an exhibit of Wangechi Mutu at the Brooklyn Museum several years ago. I've played with that sketch over the years and today I referenced it to make this painting. 



537 I Intend to Survive

Survival537 I Intend to Survive
18x24 inches :: original acrylic on stretched canvas
Last week I referenced an image of @missjoeybothwell as captured by @narcissusholmes to do an ink sketch. Today I referenced that ink sketch to paint this work.

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