Friday, May 25, 2007

Paper Cuts

I've lately been falling in love with a new generation of art works on paper. While drawing is clearly some part of the process, Peter Callesen and Kako Ueda are using the fragility and clean lines of paper to create works that are half drawing and half sculpture.

Peter Callesen's technical mastery and delicate hand take my breath away, but his utter fearlessness as he marches through some seriously sentimental topics, coming out largely unscathed, gets a nod of respect. I wouldn't touch fairy tale castles, caged angels, or hummingbirds and flowers with a 10-foot pole, but I mostly love it when he does. I'm also tickled by his dedication to process; most works proudly display just how each work was crafted. A skeleton rises from the silhouette of its former body, a fairy-tale castle looms over the shores of its own floor plan, and colorful flowers droop from white outlines. While he seems to relish the whiteness of plain paper, he also loves the shock of mixing the two (check out those flowers, which seem to literally bleed color). Callesen plays with the border between two- and three-dimensional space, and creates a surprisingly sturdy magic from the flatness of paper.

Kako Ueda, on the other hand, loves white as the background, the wall serving to highlight the dramatic red, black, or multi-colored silhouettes. Taking a page from 's book, she (he?) plays off of the exaggeratedness of old cartoons, but pulls in imagery from botanical illustrations as well, fusing them into a joyous but sometimes uneasy relationship. Ueda, too, plays with the fairly serious themes of nature, death, monsters, and beauty, proving that you don't need a pen to tackle the world. Paper and Scissors Rock.

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