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Obsession & Ornamentation


Wrtiers

Hea R. Kim Natalie Draz

Editor

Jennifer Aedy


Obsession & Ornamentation

Artists Gary Cherkas Hea R. Kim Jon P. Mel Arsenault


Art as an addiction

– Obsession has no ending point

Wrtten by Hea R. Kim Edited by Jennifer Aedy


The inspiration for this exhibition began with a group of artists who have similar ways of creating each of their own body of work. Our intention of art creation weighs heavily on developing and expanding a theme or an endless narration rather than reaching an end goal and conclusion of that theme. In other words, each participating artist’s work is a fragment of their journey in the process of making. As a fine art student I always encounter many questions about my practice. Why do I create things in a perpetual manner without a specific plan? Where does my obsession for labor intensive and repetitive tasks come from? Am I making things to calm my overabundant energy or is it a certain pattern of my life? I find that creativity is sometimes related to our anxieties and how we cope with and express them. Personally, I continue to create art as a way to fulfill the missing part of my inner ego and emptiness of my feelings. The process of creating serves as my own special and private outlet. I believe in doing arduous work in my art as a way to experience the moment when nothing becomes something; when many small parts work together to become something bigger and come alive. Here you will find that Gary Cherkas, Jon P., Mel Arsenalt, and I are all eager to transform mundane elements or a simple idea into extraordinary and aesthetically pleasing forms of art, through laborious and repetitive processes. All of us are obsessive about our techniques, and material accumulation, and as compulsion becomes the main driving force of creation, it pushes us to go beyond what we previously imagined for our work. The serendipitous aspects of the process are also the motivations to continue making, as there is no failure in this repetition within the infinite cycle of creating. The obsessive nature of the work helps these artists to have a unique approach in the creative process, as it stimulates an ever-changing perception and constructing causes many changes of the form. Working with an ambiguous form that is undefined at first is not off putting or daunting to the artists, but rather challenging and exciting to maintain the repetitive process until it reaches completion. The artists justify their obsessive repetitions of controlled layering and erasing, adding and fixing, as a tedious process that results in a maximalist work. The repetitive actions simultaneously stimulate and alleviate personal anxieties. The meaning of each piece is constantly fluctuating and shifting; the body of work rejoices in the work period while we control and translate each piece into a physical form. Art making provides the perfect avenue for the artists to release obsessive thoughts and behaviors that transform into beautiful creations. It is not just a typical act of repetition, but more like a habitual response or compulsion; the need to create that comes as naturally as a curious dog who needs to sniff and explore their surroundings one piece at a time. It is an impulse and an intuitive behavior - the obsession of creation. Obsession and melancholia - Cognitive Edge, (http://cognitive-edge.com/blog/obsession-and-melancholia)


Sense of Nonsense within Beauty of Ornamentation

Wrtten by Hea R. Kim Edited by Jennifer Aedy

Jennifer Aedy

Jennifer Aedy is a biracial, multimedia artist from the greater Toronto area who completed her BFA at Concordia, spanning the realms of Art History, Studio Art and Print Media. Her artwork involves explorations of personal identity, depictions of societal and political commentary & observations of modern media, with notes of seriousness and satire. She loves to collaborate with other writers and artists, as well as developing her ever-expanding, independent body of work. She has presented her art history research at conferences in both Montreal and Toronto.


The participating artists each have variations of beauty and craftsmanship, expressing their identities through repetitive patterns and ornamentation. The selected works are strongly based on the acumen of the artists, who follow the intuition of the heart, rather than calculated goals of the brain. Ornamentation has developed by using structural elements of visual language over thousands of years. Ornamental pieces such as sequined clothing, beading, and decorative furniture used to be considered luxury items before the Industrial Revolution and the development of technology. Machine assembly replaced many handmade processes and completely changed the need or importance of handmade craftsmanship. Ornaments such as plastic materials and artificial flowers became mass produced items, which meant that decorations and embellishments were suddenly cheap and easy to access. We may sometimes assume that 1art is inherently aesthetic, as the concept of beauty is always changing over time, though the components of ornamentation such as composition, line, shape, texture, pattern, perspective have been evolving within the context in art. These four artists incorporate ornamentation and embellishment skills in an analogue manner – handmade craft and construction. They explore the complexities of their cultural identity and personal experiences through visual overlapping and repetitive action. Throughout the aesthetic experience while we are creating artwork, the initial concept of the project constantly shifts between the real and the imagined. In the realm of visual aesthetic, beauty brings the dreamy reality to the fantastical world. Jon P. is a collector of different mechanical pens and drawing tools, Arsenault collects minerals, Cherkas is happily collecting fish figurines, and I’m sure to never miss a craft market to buy more and more worthless, beautiful, and small objects. My friends who know me well always contact me when they have something odd, pretty and pocket-sized to give away. We somehow always keep searching and craving for more, and this act is the extension of our pure desire to seek and own something that is meaningful. Collecting is often motivated by anxiety too. Obsession is often associated with negative meanings, perhaps with someone lacking balance, maturity, and control. However, obsession over something could mean that we are able to stick to something we care about, while we are perfecting during the process and not giving up until we are done. Obsession led us to art. Obsession psychologically helps us to release our desire to be perfect and better than before. It fuels us to strive for more and to keep working, whether it’s on one piece or the ever evolving larger work of art. We as artists are juggling between joy and torment during this obsessive journey of creation. The artists strongly rely on their intuition and enthusiastically approach art in analogue ways without having a fear of failing. 1. Is Art Necessarily Aesthetic? , The Verbose Stoic, (https://verbosestoic.wordpress.com/is-art-necessarily-aesthetic)


The exhibition Obsession & Ornamentation is a fantastical investigation of dreams, folklore and the inner lives of four artists becoming tangible, material landscapes. Working across the media of ceramic, illustration, bronze and installation, labour becomes a research methodology that forms a cohesive foundation underlying the creations of each artist. The diversity of documentation strategies is a significant insight into each artist’s pathway from their inner world to the exterior world. Hea R. Kim’s mushroom garden of delights is a playful, open-ended invitation for each viewer to participate in her mythic narrative. Gary Cherka’s ongoing creation of a school of koi is an intuitive mix of materials bound together by the significance of koi both personally and folklorically. Jon Park’s carefully collected lines delineate a landscape that is both a geographical place while simultaneously revealing the self hidden within each place, dreaming up the very lines that reveal his presence. Mel’s softly rounded ceramics contrast with the clinical associations of Petri dishes, creating a dreamy multi-layered interpretation of organic sciences. Each artist working across artistic disciplines, drawing from the richness of their inner lives to contemporize folklore and facts in an intuitive and multi-layered visual narrative. The structure of thought developing these fantastical landscapes is an interdisciplinary investigation of the visual stories that flow from the liminal spaces between self and landscape, dream and experience, and natural and fantastical. The autobiographical meets the folkloric in a tangible place made real by each of the artists.

Natalie Draz

- Natalie Draz

Natalie Draz holds MFA Print Media from Concordia University. She once taught Intaglio at Concordia University. She is a cross-disciplinary artist who creates environments of exploration and transformation using interdisciplinary works. Using pop-up books, printmaking and installation, Natalie creates works to tell stories and narratives. Using printmaking and photography, she investigates the structures of books and anatomical studies as launching points to a new way of reading a very alternative book.


Gary Cherkas Gary Cherkas holds a BFA degree from Concordia University’s studio art program. He has extensive knowledge in a variety of materials and methods and 25 years of employment as a technician in Concordia’s fine arts department. Having visited different Asian countries on a number of occasions Gary has an invested interest in Asian cultures, history and art practices. His work is influenced by the many wonderful experiences and observations made on his repeated trips to Japan.


The story of my current obsession, being Koi fish and Carp, as cliché as it sounds, started with a dream. In the days following that dream I was noticing images of koi everywhere. I have always enjoyed watching koi swimming in a pond and feeding them but this saturation of koi sightings left me with a growing compulsion to embark on a journey to investigate them further. I found myself becoming consumed by this curious fish and began to read and learn as much as I could about Koi, the Japanese word for carp

In Asian cultures, the carp is a symbol of determination, courage, and success. The carp’s determination and fearless ability to swim up waterfalls (The Dragon Gate) is used as an analogy in Buddhist teachings to represent a persons unshakable faith, to succeed in life no matter what obstacles they may encounter. I take comfort in the idea that something so monumental observed in nature can be the inspiration that is able to pull us out of darkness and push us forward.

Pond King ceramic(stoneware, wood) 29”X14”X10”


Untitled mixed media (bronze, wood, glass) (72�X10�X3�)

I began by making a bronze casting of a koi, upon completion I turned my attention to making ceramic carp which offered more immediate results and an escalated volume of production. The early ceramic koi were simple brightly coloured forms, but as I continued they started becoming larger, more detailed and complex with a greater emphasis on the illusion of movement and bolder glaze combinations. My fixation with the koi fish and carp in general continues on with a consuming passion. I am constantly looking for new ways to depict the subject in a variety of different materials and methods with the koi as the subject, there seems to be no final destination, instead an opportunity for more exploration and an expansion of knowledge about a topic which has captured my attention. I will continue producing work in the same theme until the idea is exhausted or replaced by a new idea.


Pond King ceramic(stoneware, wood) 29”X14”X10”

Untitled, Plaster


Hea R. Kim Hea Kim, is a Korean-born Canadian immigrant and a multi-disciplinary artist interested in creating playful, thoughtful, and technically-sophisticated installations. Her work mixes the fantastical with the mundane, the heroic with the cute and funny, and popular culture with more critical concerns. Her works have been exhibited in South Korea, Montreal, Toronto, and Shawville in Canada.


Bubbly Oddballs Ceramics, Glaze, Lustre


Cuteness is the main visual aesthetics of my art. Whatever I touch, it always turns into something vividly delicious and charmingly cute. I cannot pinpoint exactly how this happens. Spending my childhood and adolescence in the colourful and saturated countryside of South Korea, a place that is full of mixed culture between old and new, west and east, nature and artificial I do not have a clear boundary between fine art and subculture. I’ve been fascinated in the cute subject of commodity culture. In other words, it is not difficult to blend and celebrate the wonder and diversity of creation within cuteness. I think since I am away from my country, my art making has become the act of retaining my memories and fantasies of my homeland, and I may have a deeper desire to romanticize personal empirical memories of my home country. I get excited when I transform a small, ordinary, and somewhat tenuous object into weirdly whimsical things, both visually and conceptually. I feel I am giving a new life to a vulnerable and fragile creature - making it more precious and powerful. My interest in a simple, mundane object is oddly enticing, as I love to create the artificial reality that surrounds the object and expands in our imaginations, realized before our eyes. Bubbly Oddballs Ceramics, Glaze, Lustre


Bubbly Oddballs Ceramics, Glaze, Lustre

There are moments in my process when time does stop, and I am cast into a spiritual moment of complete focus on my creation. During this period of frozen hours, I am sanctioned to work enthusiastically at layering, shaping, and drawing on the surface of my small works. I become enthralled in obsessively repeating a certain pattern of production, which can result in a considerable amount of little creatures that I hadn’t initially planned to make. The physical labor itself is not a compulsive choice of mine, it is an all encompassing and necessary step that is a very important part of my work ethic. I don’t feel happy or entirely satisfied with my work if I have not completed a certain level of diligence and care. Paradoxically, I only feel accomplished after I am overcome with physical exhaustion from working hard.


Bubbly Oddballs Ceramics, Glaze, Lustre

The series of Bubbly Oddballs consists of cartoon-like mushroom formations composed of ceramic material, some of which have animal bodies and some with half human figures. The surfaces of their bodies are covered with delicate drawings, as if they were carefully tattooed by Mother Nature, which in this case is me. The clay is wet and slippery to work with before it is fired, after which, it incredibly transforms into a frozen state at a very high temperature.


Manipulating the crude, newborn material in my hands offers me endless possibilities to transform it into something special and uniquely my own. I am producing a one of a kind object that has the possibility to inspire my own creative inclinations and the imaginations of the audience.

Bubbly Oddballs Ceramics, Glaze, Lustre Work in progress


Jon P. Born in South Korea and an immigrant to Canada, Jon P. has been working mainly in drawing graphics, both within a commercial setting and the contemporary art world. With BFA and MFA in the fields of Fine Art, Design, Animation and Illustration Art, he tries to maintain traditional art practices while adopting new techniques. His unique treatment of line drawing is the key to his artworks. The motives in his body of work vary from social issues to universal and ambiguous things. His works have been featured in South Korea, Japan and Canada in both exhibitions and magazines.


Ontology Pen and Ink drawing on paper, 11X14 inch


I try to construct a complex mindscape that is highly dense and enigmatic. I usually begin with a collection of doodles that cluster on the soft, flat side of a sheet of paper, with the point of my mechanical pen. I’m very susceptible to the quality of tools I use when it comes to my choice of paper, pen and pencil. I care meticulously about my mediums and there is a certain order and rule that must be used in arranging my drawing table; everything needs to be in its place.

Ontology Pen and Ink drawing on paper, 11X14 inch


Ontology Pen and Ink drawing on paper, 11X14 inch

As I am generally a quiet and private person, I love the silent moments alone when I can hear only the sound of my pen scratching on the surface of the paper. Drawing allows me to build my inner landscape onto the flat space where there is no gravity, and where both my consciousness and subconsciousness are able to come to life through visual images. I am very fascinated in discovering the habits and patterns of human nature, for instance how human beings confront their own personal trauma and deal with their own struggle. Whenever I hear current issues and events in the media, I start relating them to my own dark experiences, (such as when I went through military life, as it is a mandatory service in my country) and I try to better understand myself and the experiences of others. This process becomes an important element for my visual art, and my own narrative incorporates in when I begin to doodle.


The viewer might be drawn into the inexplicable imagery at a first glance, because I am more concerned about how to collaborate non-related imagery such as figure and abstract, order and disorder in my visual world. When I was young I used to seriously dream of becoming the pilot of a super robot in Japanese sci-fi animation and many of Miyazaki Hayao’s movies. My interest weighs more heavily on subculture rather than academic theory.


For me, subculture is highly grounded in the imaginative world that encourages me to stay away from the place I situate, or in other words, the real world. My visual inspiration and references are the mixture of the concept of dystopia and futuristic urban landscapes. I may see the real world in a sort of pessimistic manner and treat it as a dark place since I often depict the chaotic miscommunications in society and its distorted reality.

Ontology is a series of drawings that holds a sharp line in controlled details that make up my own imagined city. Some of imagery is apocalyptic, and I tried to fill it with rich, twisted figures in a bizarre mood to create psychological drama. It projects the culmination and combination of all the odd scenes that are floating in my mind. Drawing is my key to the secret inner garden. The repetitive nature of doodling endlessly and pursuing a sheer visual poetry releases my hidden imagination that reflects the present-day society where I live.

Ontology Pen and Ink drawing on paper, 14X11 inch


Mel Arsenault Mel Arsenault is a Montreal based artist working in painting and ceramics. Attracted by what lies between two things, between the living and the inorganic, between the natural and the synthetic, the polymorphic works of Arsenault’s offer poetic renditions of ideas relating to the natural sciences and metaphysics. In 2016, Mel Arsenault won the “Outstanding Work and Meaningful Contribution to Ceramics Award” delivered by the Studio Art Department of Concordia University. Her work was shown in Canada, Italy and Romania.


My fascination for experimenting with matter goes back a long way. As a child, I remember dreaming of becoming a witch, to live in a cave full of glass containers filled with weird things, creatures and mixtures, with a big cauldron where I could have mixed potions. I did practice using my parents Eau de toilette, mixing Chanel no5 with Windex and shampoos. I would also draw numerous scenes of laboratories inspired by a children’s book about the life Louis Pasteur, where from alembics and tubes connected to curious boiling pots would result colorful bubbling concoctions. But instead of becoming a modern witch chemist, I became an artist.

Biomes glazed porcelain (varied dimension)


The materiality of ceramics and its potential for infinite possibilities are the main characteristics supporting my fascination for this medium. Attracted by experimentation, my practice is enlivened by an impulsive curiosity for material transformation and is directed by empirical and scientific modes of research. Using minerals and heat to fabricate different clay bodies and glazes, inventing and modifying recipes, calculating and collecting information, stimulate my work. I am a maker and love to be physically engaged in the process of working: to move, to walk, to stand, to lift, to brush, to knead, to draw. Thinking as I am doing.


Biomes glazed porcelain (varied dimension)


Biomes glazed porcelain (varied dimension)

The use of color is predominant in my work, and despite numerous readings on the subject, I still can’t tell why it is so. I need to engage with colour. Maybe living in a country where snow, greyness and leafless trees is most of what I see six months a year, does explain why colour has such an important role. I sometimes feel like an alchemist, trying to achieve the particular goal of controlling colour instead of gold, but matter is capricious and its behavior seldom predictable. I consider the ceramic Biomes as specimens, a place to dwell on ideas regarding science, transformation, landscape and visual poetry, suggesting alternative ways to think about painting, as they share notions of composition and explorations of texture and chroma in a contained space recalling the canvas.


Biomes glazed porcelain (varied dimension)


Exhibition View


Copyright to the works herein belong to the artists. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or manner without the written permission of the artists and Hea R. Kim Publication on the occasion of the exhibition

Obsession & Ornamentation

Galerie Mile-End Ame Art, Montreal, Canad, April 9 - April 15, 2018 Exhibition Poster, Catalogue Design - Jon P. & Hea R. Kim Exhibition Organizer - Hea R. Kim (https://heakim.weebly.com)

With Special Thanks to FARR(Concordia Fine Arts Reading Room) Jennifer Aedy (jenn.aedy@hotmail.com) Natalie Draz (https://www.nataliedraz.com) Jon P. (https://jon-p.weebly.com) Gary Cherkas (garlaz@yahoo.com) Mel Arsenault (https://www.melarsenault.com) Diamanto Tsitouras (https://ame-artselect.com)


Obsession and ornamentation  

The catalogue is published in conjunction with the group exhibition "Obsession and Ornamentation" on view at Gallery Mile End, Montreal from...

Obsession and ornamentation  

The catalogue is published in conjunction with the group exhibition "Obsession and Ornamentation" on view at Gallery Mile End, Montreal from...

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