Tonight was First Friday in Honolulu Chinatown, as I imagine it was elsewhere in the world. Gallery walks, live shows… it’s one of the few real happenings in the city each month, one of the few things worth going to.
A friend of mine (one of these days I’ll have to blog about her work) had a show up at a gallery/club called Ong King – actually a pretty neat space – but things didn’t get started hopping there until about 8:30. Personally, I was there for the art, so I would have loved to just hang out, with the lights on and the music really low or nonexistent – once the band got there, they were totally in the way of looking at the art, and the lights went down, and it was just no longer a conducive environment for appreciating the art. at all.
But, anyway, in the meantime, I poked around the other galleries in the area. Mark’s Garage, one of the only non-commercial galleries in the city (so far as I know), dedicated not to selling commercial, touristy paintings of beaches and surfers, but to actually showcasing actual artsy artistic art, is usually a great place to go to see some incredible stuff. Sadly, the current exhibition, celebrating the anniversary (25th?) of a major Pacific Arts magazine, was a total disappointment, including mostly just labels/panels describing the artists who helped design magazine covers over the years. There was very little actual art involved.
Ought. 24 in. square. Sumi ink, acrylic, epoxy resin, and automotive clear on rice paper on aluminum panel.
As I passed by the Chinatown Boardroom (a small surf shop), though, I noticed through the window the piece above, which caught my eye.
It’s like a traditional Chinese ink painting, except that it’s abstract and doesn’t really follow the kind of brushstrokes and style of a traditional Chinese painting. A red barcode and vertical string of zeros and ones in black resemble and take the place of a red seal and calligraphic inscription, adding essential elements to the work, crucial to evoking the idea or form of a traditional work. But then, it’s also shiny.
I went in, and saw a number of other equally impressive and intriguing works on the wall. A man standing around wearing a lei looked to be the artist (good guess. he’s the man in the lei.), so I started asking him about the works. He introduced himself as Ted Lincoln, based in Gainesville, Florida. The shininess and something about the quality of the black made me think it was black & white photography – that he had blown up regular photos or otherwise produced abstraction out of normal photography methods. But that’s not the case. Apparently, he has studied in China, under a master of traditional ink painting, and uses those methods and media to create these works, the shininess coming from the after-process of covering the works (in ink on paper) with a clear automotive varnish or other such materials.
The bar code apparently actually reads out his name, and the binary on each work likewise corresponds or translates to the actual title of the work.
If you read my blog regularly, you know I totally eat this kind of stuff up. Edgy, innovative, very contemporary and new, but also very much referencing and evoking the aesthetic, style, or feel of the traditional forms. Fantastic.
If you are interested, I encourage you to take a look at his website: TedLincoln.com.
(Image is from the artist’s website, TedLincoln.com. No copyright claims or challenges are intended; image is used only to promote itself and its creator.)