Since 2014・Volume 5
Throughout this period, Mace used his new bag of tricks and unorthodox mediums to breath new life into traditional Japanese crafts by infusing all he'd absorbed during his time in Japan with his existing catalogue of ideas and interests, forming his own brand of art deco steampunk-psychedelia. Japanese room partitions ('byōbu') traditionally constructed of fine woodwork and washi paper were re-imagined using a hardware and CD picture disc motif (pictured). A limited series of clocks matched the aesthetic, as did a trio of Womannequins Mace handcrafted as part of a window display commission (pictured, above-right), one of which won an international design award. Chrome and wood end-tables Mace designed in 2006 were commercially reproduced in Japan for several years (pictured, right).
Such offshoot works had nothing to do with Mace's drawing abilities except that preliminary designs were always worked out on paper, in ballpoint. But aside from technical drawings mapping out interior/exterior designs and the fabrication of objects, he kept drawing for himself, too. Along with the normal flow of fresh ideas, elements of imagery Mace had drawn onto the entry walls of the Viewseum began reappearing in derivative drawings, copied or embellished upon for reapplication to the new surfaces he'd started using. Electric Aztec, an image which would not be out of place in an ancient Aztec temple, was among the first of his Viewseum images to be rebooted. Redrawn onto a ''slice'' of cherry tree (2004 pictured, top), it is also one of the first instances of Mace applying ballpoint to wood. As with its original incarnation as Viewseum entry wall art, hardware also made the transfer. Nuts-and-bolts hardware plays a part in all of Mace's Viewseum reboots, and has remained a common element since then. Wood, too; often cross-section slices of tree, with bark intact along either edge. ''It's hard and soft at the same time,'' he explains of drawing on wood. ''It soaks up the ink, so you have to lay down thicker layers, but the outcome is richer; adds translucency as the layers soak in.'' Continues on HEADLINES 2 ...
Japan correspondent E. Lee wraps up his online
retrospective of illustrious ballpointer Lennie Mace with this long-awaited Part 3 of 3, bringing us up to date
with his career between 2004 and now—decade three and into decade four for Mace as a professional artist—
during which additions of new techniques, new materials, new projects and overall maturation blossomed.
In 2004 another new patron granted Mace the use of a spacious lounge
in Tokyo, given their walls to do as he pleased. Mace used the opportunity
to spread his good fortune, and turned his creative eye toward producing
exhibitions of Japanese artists and photographers who might not otherwise
have had a chance. The result was the Living Room; a lounge/gallery
furnished casually with sofas, plants—comforts of home—and arranged
so customers could also freely peruse the artwork. An ideal setting;
potential buyers could view the artwork as it might appear in their own home.
Mace curated twenty some-odd exhibitions, including two for art prodigies
under his tutelage. Naturally, Mace also used this new outlet to exhibit his
own work; twice a year during his Living Room's three-year run, in between
exhibits at the Isetan department store gallery, his regular outlet in Tokyo.
RETROSPECTACLE by E. Lee, with R. Bell posted March 12, 2018
Lennie Mace・Tokyo, Japan
Decade 3 : 2004-2014 Ballpoint PLUS
By 2004, Lennie Mace had been mastering the artistic capabilities of ballpoint pens for over two decades and working with them professionally for nearly as long, producing groundbreaking 'wow'-worthy halftone effects which show little trace of the ballpoint line-work used in their creation; his so-called 'PENtings'. Mace had always been one of the few true ballpoint purists—an artist whose body of work consists mostly, if not completely, of ballpoint pen usage—but during the early years of the 21st century his creative instincts would manifest in ways that matched, and sometimes superseded, his mastery of the pen.
In the wake of publicity stirred up by the 2002 opening of his Tokyo Viewseum came a wave of interest attracting new patrons with grander commissions. Mace hadn't solicited attention to the Viewseum himself but, being work commissioned as a salon interior, the patron did. Soon enough, word simply got around about the salon-with-a-view. Mace elaborated upon design details from the Viewseum to fill requests for commissions, and there happened to be plenty of design details and commissions—whole brass sections-worth of trumpets, flugelhorns, cornets and tubas hand-crafted into light fixtures, even a chandelier; Walls completely resurfaced with CD and vinyl picture-discs, affixed using artful arrangements of washers and other stainless steel hardware; walls, doors and ceilings wallpapered in a collaging of magazine pages, fabrics, stickers and, again, hardware.
Finding new things to do and new ways to do them using new tools and materials further fueled Mace's already-voracious appetite to create. Output exploded in every direction, leading him into a prolific period which continues to bear fruit. A one-man renaissance had been set into motion, but unless you were in direct contact with Mace or his circle of supporters you might never have known about much of it. It was all a publicists dream, but by that time Mace was already quietly enjoying a career of his own and feeling less-inclined, in his own words, to ''pander''.
Artwork, from the top : Electric Aztec, 2004, ballpoint pen & hardware on wood ; Above-right : Room Partition 1, 2004, compact discs & hardware on wood ; Left, Denim Scroll slideshow :
Cat Scratch & Lovebirds Kiss, both 2006, ballpoint pen on denim (*also: Lovebirds ' Mayan source material); Right : Womannequin 3, 2004 (two views) hardware, computer parts, fiber optics, fiberglass (*also: table& matching floor design, 2006). Artwork © Lennie Mace
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