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.
Left : Lots of Bits of Stars (in-full & detail pictured) 2014, ballpoint pen on paper 67 x 84 cm (26.3 x 33'' ).
Below : My Eye On You (detail) 2016, ballpoint pen on paper (full artwork in slideshow above).
All artwork © Kai & Sunny.
Kai & Sunny's work in ballpoint packs plenty of 'wow' factor but little of that is due to the usage of ballpoints. The partners are, after all, using the pens exactly for that which they were created: lines, plain and simple. The 'wows' lay in the kinetic compositions created with those lines. The brightly colored and sometimes metallic gel inks certainly provide richness, but lines like that can be achieved by any number of mediums. The two have already started to explore that by utilizing paint and brush. ''We are working on an acrylic painting currently using very thin lines. This is something we have been developing and testing over the last year.'' In one such piece, Endless Wave (pictured, slideshow at right), Kai declares, ''We are finally seeing some very exciting results.''
Artwork as stylized as this is often lumped into design categories — graphics, decorative art or art-as-object — but 'decorative' is by no means a bad word if the decor provided is as beautifully realized as Kai & Sunny present it, and seldom do inanimate objects show such movement as with artwork such as Passage of Time (2016, pictured). Some are quick to dismiss such artwork due to a deceptive simplicity which belies the absolute hands-on, mindful effort required in its creation, especially in this age of digital ease. ''Passage of Time was one of those pieces that the simplicity was its strength. We wanted the piece to feel effortless,'' explains Kai, while stressing ''it was much more difficult to achieve than we thought. It took some time to get the bend to join top and bottom.'' Once the two settle on a composition, they proceed using masks and simple grids to plot their course. ''When drawing, we always know where we are going. The rest is basically time and patience,'' Kai says of the time investment, ''Approximately a month from concept and design to realization.'' In pieces like My Eye On You (2016, pictured, slideshow at right), in which the vivid colors and graphic orchestration create the kind of optical illusions that send retinas ricocheting, the geometric patterns become a template for companion pieces, replicated using different color spectrums (also pictured). Kai describes the wavy lines of Passage as a natural progression from the straight lines of previous work such as Spectrum (2014, pictured, HEADLINES 1 page). ''We were enthused by the simple change of line direction. The thin lines gave the image it’s energy and movement, appearing to pull you one way and then the other.'' Kai sees it as a ''calming'' image, stating the obvious in adding ''you tend to get lost within it.''
Kai & Sunny also keep the ballpoint elephant-in-the-room front and center: the lightfastness of ballpoint pen inks, a question on the mind of all discerning art buyers. Promotional texts always include a disclaimer of sorts, asserting the chemical stability of the inks they use and, consequently, vouching for the lifespan of their ballpoint penwork. ''We are very careful about the pens we use. We researched the pens and called various suppliers regarding quality,'' explains Kai in defense of their choice of inks. ''We also draw on archival, acid-free paper — very porous, so the ink sinks in, dries fast and prevents smearing — and frame with UV glass to add more protection to our artwork. We have had zero fade with our pieces,'' adds Kai, with a level of confidence in having met an artistic responsibility.
Kai & Sunny's next exhibition is scheduled for August, 2017, at Subliminal Projects Gallery in Los Angeles, their second at a space owned by the self-described 'populist ' street artist Shepard Fairey, with whom they'd also collaborated in 2013. Kai foresees ballpoint penwork as comprising at least half of the exhibition. Unlike ballpointers working with figurative imagery whose artwork is often cleaned up by reduction for publication, size matters for Kai & Sunny, whose artwork is sapped of its impact upon reduction and easily mistaken for computer generated graphics. Having not yet personally stood before the original artwork myself, I nonetheless recommend art lovers to go see it for themselves — compositions of this size and nature are best-appreciated face to face — but don't stand too close lest you get swept away.
Or risk a seizure・
For more art, information, and contact : kaiandsunny.com
PENNAME by O. Lebron posted March 23, 2017
Lined Up・Kai & Sunny・London, England
INPRINT by X. Xxx posted March 1, 2016
Since 2014・Volume 4