May 7, 2015

Flotsam and Jetsam by Jonathan Ching

Jonathan Ching's new show entitled "Flotsam and Jetsam" opened last April 29 at West Gallery.

When asked about his choice of name for the show, the artist pensively replies, "One man's trash is another man's treasure."  

The show definitely reflects these images-- flowers upon muck, buds alongside grime, blossoms amidst rust -- beauty adjacent to filth, beauty glorified by filth, beauty in filth. Such associations draw out questions on how we define what is aesthetically attractive and how we judge and value the everyday things. Can we creatively raise our standards and see the appeal of both beauty and filth in harmony with each other?

My Feet in Mud, 60 x 72 inches, oil on canvas

Iris, 60 x 72 inches, oil on canvas

Twilight Hours, 60 x 84 inches, oil on canvas

Daybreak, 60 x 84 inches, oil on canvas

California Dreamin' (Cherry Plums in My Backyard), 60 x 84 inches, oil on canvas

Contrast as a principle of art is widely practiced and praised.  Yet artists, like Jonathan, must not only have very vivid imaginations to put together these seemingly incompatible images.  A measure of tolerance, some broad-mindedness, and a certain acceptance must be inherent in one who can conceptualize creating beautiful art using such unexpected images side by side.  The odds and ends juxtaposed to the ethereal blooms simultaneously stir up admiration and disturb us into contemplation. Need we more evidence that this artist indeed "paints with his brains and not with his hands"?

The artist Jonathan Ching, with his brother, Mariano Ching.

I attach here the official write-up commissioned by West Gallery:

"In Flotsam and Jetsam, Jonathan Ching explores the possibilities presented by the triptych as a form: all the paintings in the exhibition are in three panels. A triptych, said Ching, allows an artist to break up a picture both physically and metaphorically. “I can choose to juxtapose images that may or may not be related, and present a new take on them as an image or idea.” 

Luscious flowers done in pink and blue impasto are bracketed by abstract forms borrowed from walls smeared with tar and graffiti. On panels of unequal width, slender branches garlanded by blossoms spring forth from rusted scissor gates left open. Elsewhere, two lotuses are left to float in a puddle of mud. In Ching’s still life compositions, Mother Nature’s refined bounty is almost always cut off by urban grit. The arrangement isn’t necessarily an indictment—Ching makes no overt claims. Rather, his re-contextualization encourages more thoughtful viewing: delicate petals become even more so when they are surrounded by dark ocean waves.
Beyond considering the triptych as form, Flotsam and Jetsam showcases Ching’s gestural technique: eddies of pigment swirl about his canvases with great energy, imbuing his subjects with a certain joie de vivre. Eyeing the surface of his textured work reveals gobbets of paint clinging to each other, creating miniature peaks and valleys that keep to the painterly rhythm of his hand. — ll"

Catch "Flotsam and Jetsam" at West Gallery until May 30.
West Gallery is at 48 West Avenue Quezon City.
View more of Jonathan's works here.

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