Since 2014・Volume 5
Introduction of denim as a viable drawing surface had more homegrown origins for Mace: he'd been drawing on his own jeans and denim jackets since he was a kid. On denim, he says, ''It's easier to lose the linework''. Again Mace targeted a Japanese tradition which gelled with his choice of materials: scrollwork ('kakejiku'), replacing sumi ink and washi paper with ballpoint and denim. During visits to the US, Mace collaborated with his father, an upholsterer, to fabricate the scrolls, using the legs of his own faded jeans and reconfiguring pockets, belt loops, hemlines and inseams to fill out the designs.
Use of more simplified ballpoint penwork was necessary to suit the coarser texture of denim, meaning Mace had to sacrifice his trademark detail for imagery which could be appreciated from farther away—birds, cats (pictured), and the like; the kind he'd also applied as temporary tattoos to skin. For his Lovebirds Kiss scroll (2006, pictured), he borrowed bird details from murals decorating the ancient Mayan site of San Bartolo. Mace borrowed from himself, too. An Asian-style dragon motif originally drawn on paper bred two offshoots: a limited production of designer jeans for fashion designer Michiko Koshino's Yen Jeans label bore Mace's dragon silkscreened onto one leg (2006), and
Mace also had a one-off embroidered version created as a denim scroll.
Artwork, above : She Awase (Japanese kanji design, shiawase, 幸) 2003, media graffiti, ballpoint on advertisement ; Right : Pussycat Playground, Midnight, 2011, ballpoint on wood. Slideshow, below-left : Nubian Guard tapestry; Legs (Running), 2011, ballpoint on wood ; Mother Nature is a Fickle Playmate, ballpoint & hardware on wood ; Slideshow, below-right : Toy Car series, 2006~ (Prototype, 2004; Taxi, 2006; Horse Power, 2006 & 2011) ballpoint & hardware on wood. Artwork © Lennie Mace
Ancient art motifs had become more prevalent by 2006, a byproduct of Mace's longtime interest in so-called Ancient Astronaut theories. Masterpiece ballpoint PENtings such as Uchuu Neko Parade (Alien Cat Parade, 2005) and CosPlayStation:2011 have many such elements tucked ambiguously into the scenes. With no artistic intent at the time of their creation, these themes coalesced into the body of work which would become his INKA exhibition (2009). INKA was the first of a handful of exhibitions centering on a chosen theme, something Mace had never done, and, until then, never cared to do.
Mace also created so much artwork with recreation, or 'play ',
as a uniting theme that there was enough to fill two Play Pen
exhibitions at two separate galleries in Tokyo (2011). The full
range of Mace's output was on display—denim, tapestries,
wood, Media Graffiti, et al—presenting figures running,
jumping, swinging, and much more. Among the highlights was a new toy car series, drawn in ballpoint onto blocks of wood which Mace jigsawed into the shapes of sports cars, sedans, taxis and other unclassifiable models (pictured, right). Mace was prepping artwork for the first Play Pen exhibition when Japan's triple disaster of 2011 occurred (earthquake; tsunami; nuclear meltdown). He had already cut the shapes for a new set of cars, but after witnessing the aftermath of the tsunami and seeing cars piled up like toys in the debris field, Mace cut up a few of his cars and pieced them together into one pile to commemorate the event (pictured, left).
At his Invisible Ink exhibition (2015)Mace formally debuted his
''dry pen'' technique in a series of drawings using ballpoints with no ink, just blank linework pressed into the paper. The drawing can only be seen when lit from extreme angles. It was not only one of Mace's sharpest ''left turns'' but also one of the most innovative uses of ballpoints in some time. Continues on the BACKPAGE ...
RETROSPECTACLE by E. Lee, with R. Bell posted March 12, 2018
Lennie Mace・Tokyo, Japan
Decade 3 : 2004-2014 Ballpoint PLUS
Mace improvised on most elements of the Viewseum entry murals, including the drawings, so most figures were positioned and proportioned to fit into available space—arms or legs were impossibly extended, or omitted altogether—but he'd been drawing that way all of his life. The figure which would become known as Nubian Guard, Electrical Receptacle, among those added later, was positioned low on the wall abutting an electrical outlet. Presented in profile as with ancient Egyptian bas-relief figures, Mace's Nubian is all-legs up to its neck, with actual stainless steel washers and screws at its joints. Nubian 's reincarnation would come in the form of a tapestry (pictured). Since 2002, Mace had been collaborating with Hideo Yamakuchi, an artist from a family of tapestry makers ('orimono'), and Nubian suited the medium. To create the tapestries, hi-def digital photos or scans of original art were fed into a computerized loom which wove colored silk threads into perfect replicas; no printing involved. All details, even the hardware and electrical outlet, appear on the tapestry just as they do on the wall.
Continuing from HEADLINES 1 ... Japanese kanji designs also became part of Mace's ballpoint-on-wood oeuvre, and another offshoot business; family names and stand-alone kanji characters such as ''happiness'' (pictured) drawn in flowing, calligraphic ballpoint linework. The designs were a natural evolution of Mace's under-standing and mastery of font design dating back to his involvement with New York graffiti artists of the early 1980s.