South Korean artist Jihyun Park creates incredibly complex images by burning minute holes in rice paper with incense sticks. He then mounts the finished ‘drawings’ onto varnished canvases. The final results are beautifully serene images of trees, mountains, clouds, forests and branches. As a kind of reverse pointillism, Park is interested in the contrasts between empty space and positive space, or by taking something away (parts of the paper, and the incense stick) to create something new (the image).
Inspired by the books Gulliver’s Travels, Utopia, and Erewhon and after seeing the Japanese animated movie Castle in the Sky, Park became interested in the ideas of utopia and harmony. He expands these connections in his work further:
My recent work, Incense Series, focuses on this relationship while searching for the promised harmonic balance that utopia brings. Ironically, the word “utopia” in Korean is “Yi Sang Hwang” and “Hwang” means “incense”. (Source)
Park also talks about the ideas of positive and negative further. He says the shadows created by the holes in the paper are playing off of the light reflected from behind them. To him this is a fine example of Yin and Yang and two opposites who complicate and strengthen each other. He also chooses to outline his subjects or to fill them in – working with reverses in an aesthetic sense as well.
The subjects addressed in my work range from the natural world to memories of the past, reflecting the constant physical and emotional changes in our environment. It is my hope that the “moments” I captures of my subjects are ones when they are at their most ideal– true utopias. While drawing them with the incense, I am “holding” a split moment of harmony in my hands. (Source)
Off beat humor is a running theme throughout the sculptures and drawings of Los Angeles artist Amy Sarkisian. In one piece a giant geometric sphere is wearing an equally massive pair of underwear. In another series cheap Ikea furniture is embellished with lavish patterning using inexpensive adhesive vinyl to replicate high end wood inlay. Regardless of image or material, comedy weaves its way in and out of Sarkisian’s imagery both through choice of material and concept.
Brussels-based Hélène Jeudy consistently pumps out magical graphite drawings that never cease to dazzle the eyes with the banal and the demonic. From the kitchen to the pits of hell you will go, with your eyes being blasted by her beautiful tonnage. She recently, had a book released by POGO Books. Support. This. Lovely. Dream.
Abraham McNally merges things. Things like powerlines and houses, industry and nature, drawings and photographs. The result is an exploration of what’s organic — organic in the sense of what’s natural and organic in the sense of what’s essential. McNally’s additional sculptural and site-specific work rounds an examination of the schism between “a romantic return to the rural” and “a return to the comforts and realities of American society.”
I was perusing the Beautiful/Decay Creative Pic Flickr Pool this morning and came across Meyoko’s densely delicate ink drawings. Half Arcimboldo’s grotesque fruit heads, half seething with creatures from the garden of Hieronymous Bosch‘s earthly delights, Meyoko’s works flit, tangle, weave, drip, and feather their way into strange specters. I realized I’ve seen her work before, somewhere, though I can’t recall exactly, so when it popped up on our Flickr page like a repeat-dream I was strangely enchanted- fitting I suppose! More works after the jump. I can’t seem to find any other information about her aside from her Flickr page. So, Meyoko, if you want to tell us who you are (or anyone knows the whereabouts of this mysterious ink-chanteuse) let me know!
“Nightmusic” (2014). Acrylics on linen, 140 x 180cm.
“Dear Darkness” (2014). Acrylics and graphite on linen, 60 x 70 cm.
“Anticipation” (2014). Acrylics on linen, 70 x 100 cm.
“Cosmic Tides” (2014). Acrylics on linen, 120 x 170 cm.
Martine Johanna is a Netherlands-based artist whose beautiful, color-drenched works transfigure female figures into surrealist expressions of layered emotions and inner thoughts. In 2012, we featured her illustration portfolio, a body of work which depicts her distinctive, artistic tradition of blending abstract elements with whimsical sensuality. Also included in her oeuvre are a number of stunning acrylic paintings — many of them produced more recently — that delve into the worlds of the conscious and unconscious minds with stunning depth and sensitivity.
Characterizing Johanna’s paintings are women — often nude or nearly-nude — posed in contemplation, their eyes deep and shimmering, faces soft and shaded with storms of inner emotion. When I enquired about the use of nudity in her works, Johanna emphasized that while sex and sexuality are parts of our identities that can be used in artistic, representational ways that hold a lot of subversive power, her work is more concerned with an exploration of the mind and the body’s relationship to it. As she explained in a statement provided to Beautiful/Decay:
“There is more layering when it comes to forming the concepts of how [my] works come into existence, [just as] there is so much more going on in a person’s mind, conscious and subconscious; it is a web of complex emotions that contradict each other endlessly. For example: we want to be loved, but being overly loved corrupts, and love in itself is complex because the motivations behind wanting to be loved are already so many, from purity to manipulation to adornment to obsession, etc. In my process I deal with parts of these contradictions, [and] these thought patterns and emotions are endlessly fascinating to me.
However, I do not plan to make a work solely based on a combination of emotions; when I make what I make, I set up the compositions and figures that I feel, at that moment, is the right visual outcome to what my frame of reference and mind is. […] A couple of years back, I had my own sort of sexual revolution and a whole range of personal emotions connected to it. This is apparent in my work, [and] also visible is that I didn’t have my material or ways of expressing under control yet, which I’m now starting to get more of a grip on.”
The products of Johanna’s artistic explorations are paintings depicting layers of both materiality and essence. We see two worlds superimposed over each other: the corporeal, sensual, and sensate body, and the abyssal ocean of unpredictable emotion which surges within each one of us.
The surrealist elements of Johanna’s works likewise express the emotional contradictions mentioned in the above quote. Recurring motifs in her paintings are dualisms, shadowy “others” who embrace and accompany the female figures (see “Cosmic Tides” and “Dear Darkness,” for example). When I asked Johanna what this signified, she insightfully replied:
“[T]here is a balance of contradictions within us. You need dark to see the light; it’s nothing new, it’s yin and yang, it’s life. Denying darkness and not dealing with it doesn’t make life better — it makes it superficial.”
Hence why, in many of Johanna’s pieces, we often see layers of seemingly “contradictory” experiences, such as beauty alongside death (“The Hunted”), and hope alongside grief (“Opaline Blue”).
Balint Zsako’s drawings work speaks to our contemporary anxieties about sexuality and human intimacy. His works are described as quirky, disturbing, otherworldly, and a little bit dirty. See Balint’s work in a group show at The Proposition in NYC until june 26th.
Stuart Patience’s Ragnarok is a series of illustrations based on the writings of Norse mythology. Each drawing is taken from Ragnarok, the Norse aplcalyptic saga describing the destruction of worldly life. I also included a few delicate self portraits at the end of the post.