Since 2014・Volume 4

News, Reviews & Coverage of the Artists using Ballpoint Pens, the Artwork They Create, the Tools They Employ & Other Equally Newsworthy but Overlooked Art & Cultural Topics, Worldwide.


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Original content © The Ballpointer / Mahozawari Unlimited.

Slideshow above : All artwork Media Graffiti series and 365DAZE project; ballpoint pen on printed matter. All artwork  © Lennie Mace.

Next installment, Summer 2017 :  Decade 3: 2004-2014 

For more art and information

Wai is represented by Grotto Fine Arts in Hong Kong, and his work has also been shown in group exhibitions and art fairs outside of his homeland. The Asian Art Museum in San Francisco (USA) and Ashmolean Museum (University of Oxford, UK) have acquired his artwork. Among recent accomplishments is Wai's inclusion in the book Ballpoint Art (2016). Wai is among the finest of new names introduced by writer Trent Morse. Wai will be 35 in September; In 'art' years, that means we may still look forward to his best work over several more decades of love, loss, adventure, experimentation and perhaps the occasional reinvention. With his polite, friendly disposition and a bright smile more analogous to that of an aspiring artist entering art school than a professional artist ten years into a career, more accomplishments seem assured

Sept 8—Oct 28, 2017  NOW UP

Another Slipping Glimpser   solo exhibition

Carl Hammer Gallery  Chicago, IL (USA)  

Indiana-born & -based artist CJ Pyle presents approximately twenty-two new works (Mrs. Burt of Encino  pictured) seemingly 'woven' in ballpoint and mixed-media onto paper and other surfaces. More info.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​OFF TOPIC  Points of interest in the arts, from elsewhere on the internet

artnetDo Outsider Artists Really ExistAnthony Haden Guest・Jan 22, 2016 

The Report: Aging elbow-rubber and chronicler of the 1970s, 80s and 90s celeb social circuit Haden-Guest was fishing for a timely topic to chime in on and he found one in Outsider Art. Although he touches on some valid points, the article is provided no space for him to actually go anywhere with it. Just lots of name dropping — Henry Darger, Adolf Wolfi, Joe Coleman — enough to prove he may still know what he's talking about.

The Point: Usage of ballpoint pens to create art has its own outsider element of which Haden-Guest is either unaware or wasn't provided enough space to touch upon. But his closing statement about the "surge of faux, unfelt Outsiderism into the marketplace" hits a nail on the head. Whatever will cover the high cost of an art-star lifestyle and expensive gallery space; a Jeff Koons exhibition of ballpoint PEN tings would fit that description.  B. Neufeld

Associated PressDetroit police issue warrant for street artist Fairey artwork・June 25, 2015 
The ReportShepard Fairey, ''who created the  Hope poster that came to symbolize President Barack Obama's 2008 campaign'' vandalized buildings across Detroit, and ''would be arrested if he returns to Detroit and doesn't turn himself in ''. Fame ''does not take away the fact that he is also a vandal '', a police sergeant is quoted as saying.
The Point: Indeed, this is still what it takes to be considered 'cool' in the 21st century. Personally, I 'Hope ' he's made an example of.  R. Bell  

NewsweekFox Channel Blurs Out Breasts on Picasso PaintingLucy Westcott・May 15, 2015   

The Report: Pablo Picasso's The Women of Algiers (1955) broke the record for most expensive work of art to sell at auction, but apparently had its bare nipples blurred during a news report of the sale.

The Point: Considering Picasso's cubist painting style, the only way an impressionable mind would even recognize 'nipples' is if someone told them they were nipples, and the only way they would consider nipples bad would be if someone taught them they were bad. Apparently someone at Fox must've been cut off from mother's milk too soon and still holds a grudge.  B. Neufeld  

BBC NEWS (UK)Painting sale sets $300m record・Feb 7, 2015   
The Report: Paul Gaugain's Nafea fas ipoipo? (1892) was privately sold for $300 million to an unidentified buyer in Qatar
The Point: That same amount of money could... A: Buy 300 works of art for a million dollars each. B: Buy a million artworks for 300 dollars each. C: Feed the unfed of the world. D: Wipe my ass 300 million times at a buck a wipe. E: All of the above.  B. Neufeld  

The Globe and Mail (Canada)When Iggy Pop can't live off his art, what chance do the rest have?

Elizabeth Renzetti・Oct 17, 2014   
The Report: The 'godfather of punk' says he'd have to ''tend bars between sets'' if he had to live off of royalties from his music alone, because 'everyone wants to listen' but 'no one wants to pay'. 
The Point: The important matter of artistic value in the easy-access digital age. Visual artists face the same challenge.  O. Lebron 

National Doodle Day (UK)drawing a line through epilepsy・Annually? 

The Report : Originating from the UK and operated by Epilepsy Action, National Doodle Day is a fundraising event to benefit ''600,000 people in the UK living with epilepsy''. 

The Point : Epilepsy! Donate a doodle, buy a doodle or learn how you can get involved in other ways.  O. Lebron  

Daily Mail Online (UK)As prices for Damien Hirst's works plummet, pity the credulous saps who spent fortunes on his tosh・November, 2012 
The Report : Auction prices for Damien Hirst artworks are falling and some are being withdrawn unsold, circumstances cheered by the proudly biased (''Finally...!'') writer of the article (Ruth Dudley Edwards?). 
The Point : At the time of Hirst's rise as darling of the art world (mid/late-1990s), suckers still speculated on art-as-trophy-investment. What's happened since then is a fine example of what happens when the now-proverbial 'wow factor ' is all you have. After the thrill is gone, someone is bound to notice: ''Uhm, it's a shark. In a tank... Isn't that what Museums of Natural History or aquariums are for ?''. It's just as much the fault of the media for reporting about such bull-shit-artists  in the first place.  B. Neufeld 

    STARPOINTS  by K. Rie  posted February 28, 2017

All but the keenest viewers may have missed the many ballpoint pen cameos on screens big and small over the years. Ballpoints are regulars in Hollywood productions, and not just as set dressing... 

Pen  In The Neck

Casino  1995・Director Martin Scorsese 

August 19—September 15, 2017  NOW UP

Endless Wave   solo exhibition

Subliminal Projects Gallery  Los Angeles, CA (USA)  

New ballpoint pen originals and prints by the British art duo Kai & Sunny at the gallery owned by Shepard Fairey (print collaboration between the three, incorporating Fairey's iconic  Obey  graphic, pictured cropped). More info.

​​​​PENNAME   by O. Lebron  posted August 12, 2017​​

​​Explaining Wai    Pongyu WaiHong Kong 

Continuing from  HEADLINES 2 ...  

Wai withheld the flower's political connotations from explanations related to the exhibition, which he describes as comprised of ''mostly politically correct paintings; 'beautiful' landscapes, animals and plants''.

Whether conceptual, social or political in essence, the imagery Wai conjures is always a joy to look at or get lost within. His compositions often teeter precariously on the page, but hold their balance in spite of movement present in Wai's pen strokes. He has a recognizable way of aligning those strokes, which give the paper of some pieces a crumpled texture, or a fabric-like appearance to others. Inked elements seem to rise from or sink into the page. Paul Serfaty fittingly describes Wai's seismographic application of lines as ''the visualizations of sound waves, or ocean tides, or pure rhythm put to paper.'' In Bauhinia (2007, pictured HEADLINES 2), a simple floral graphic is combined with an alignment of red lines, giving the washi paper the appearance of a flag billowing in the wind. Other than these rare instances of color, Wai sticks to black ballpoints, and, unless collaborating on an unrelated piece with another artist, concentrates on one piece at a time. For one current collaboration, Wai says, ''I am using as many colours as I can find.'' Wai spends anywhere from a few minutes to a year to complete a piece, but most average a couple of weeks. Shade of a Flower clocks in at 10 days despite it being one of his largest works to-date at approximately 3 by 6 feet. 

''A businessman who'd seen my  Mona Lisa  in New York (in 1993)  commissioned me to do something similar in Japan. Since the subject would be Japanese and the finished artwork would end up in Japan, I suggested they send me there to do the drawing. If I drew it in New York, it would cost them to get the artwork to Japan safely anyway,'' Mace reasoned. ''I told them they could consider the cost of the trip as partial payment and they took me up on the offer. Next thing you know, I'm in  Tokyo  for a month, and  Kyoto, where I drew the Toji pagoda on site. I never particularly cared about Japan, and if it weren't for that commission I might never have gone, but I saw an opportunity to travel and had a good reason, so I took it. That one month was like fate. I knew I started something there and couldn't just leave it at that, so I made plans to spend more time.'' 

If work as an illustrator defined Mace's career in the decade prior to 1994, Japan defined it for the decade that followed, and thereafter. Appearances at high profile art expos such as NICAF  in Yokohama and Tokyo's then-fledgling  Design Festa  during his first years there elicited art world and public interest. By 1997Mace was holding solo exhibitions at least twice a year in Japan. Exhibitions at Isetan department store in Tokyo became part of his rounds, and provided prestige; department store exhibitions garner mass media attention and, therefore, respect for artists in Japan... 

Click here to continue to the fully archived feature article

Above : Dauntlessly, Charlie Buddha 1  2015, ballpoint pen on paper, 52 x 79cm (21 x 32'').  Artwork  © Pongyu Wai.

​​​​RETROSPECTACLE   by E. Lee  originally posted Dec. 17, 2016​​

​​Lennie MaceTokyo, Japan

Decade 2 : 1994-2004  Global & Mobile

By 1994Lennie Mace had made a name for himself as an illustrator and had been exhibiting his ballpoint pen artwork in New York annually since 1990. Neither realizing it nor striving for it, he became the first artist to make news by using ballpoint pens to create halftone effects never imagined achievable, in fine figurative art which elevated the pens from their proletarian origins and association with doodling. Just as media attention and success was peaking in the US, even if only as 'that ballpoint pen guy', Mace suddenly packed up and moved to Japan, to the surprise of everyone and against the urging of advisors.  More below... 

​​​​​​​​​​Listings published courtesy of The Ballpointer, space permitting.

Something you'd like to see?  Something you'd like us  to see?...


''Well thank you,'' Wiseguy snaps. ''Now why don't you take that fuckin' pen and shove it up yer ass you fuckin' jag'off.''

Sam's narration sums up the proceedings and closes the scene: ''While I was trying to figure out  why  the guy was saying what he was saying, Nicky just hit 'im. No matter how big a guy might be, Nicky would take 'im on. You beat Nicky with fists, he comes back with a bat. You beat him with a knife, he comes back with a gun. And if you beat him with a gun you better kill 'im, 'cause he'll keep comin' back and back until one of you is dead.'' It really was a nice pen

Read more K. RieSTARPOINTS on the CULTUREDpage

Feb 4, 2017—Jan 7, 2018  NOW UP

Closing Borders   solo exhibition

Serlachius Museum, Gösta  Mänttä, Finland   

Finnish artist Riiko Sakkinen, cited as a 'political artist' in the exhibition promotions, includes his ballpoint & mixed-media The Least Powerful Passport (pictured) on display in an exhibition which ''studies a Europe that is barricading its borders and turning in on itself''. Long runMore info.

Another ballpoint cameo having nothing to do with drawing. Robert De Niro, as casino boss Sam ''Ace'' Rothstein, finds a fancy ballpoint pen on a bar counter in front of him. He taps the shoulder of a customer to his right. The clearly annoyed man turns as Sam holds up the pen and asks, ''This yours?''

Nicky, bloody pen-in-hand, shouts down at Wiseguy, ''What's that, you hear a little girl, Frankie? You hear a little girl, Ace? Is that a little fuckin' girl? What happened to the fuckin' tough guy who told my friend stick it up his fuckin' ass, huh?!'' 

Picking up where he left off last July  (Decade 1: 1984-1994),  

E. Lee's online retrospective of ballpointer  Lennie Mace  continues, from slideshow presentations and notes compiled during a week-long visit to the artist's  Ena Castle  in Japan last January…

''Yeah, that's my pen,'' the bulky Wiseguy affirms, ''Why?'' 
''Well, it's a nice pen,'' Sam explains. ''I didn't know whose it was. I thought if it's yours, I don't want anyone else to...'' 

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Being a Scorsese/De Niro film, you know Joe Pesci can't be far off, this time as mobster Nicky Santoro seated to Sam's left. Nicky turns just in time to see and hear the offense. Doh!
     Before Wiseguy even knows what hit him, Nicky is jabbing the pen into his neck; thirteen times, quick succession. Wiseguy is on the floor by the seventh. Then comes that Pesci Kick, the one popularized in Goodfellas five years earlier. More stabbing, kicking, and a wheezing Wiseguy.

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INKBLOTTER   last revised July 3, 2017

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