The expression Couple Look is a commonly used Konglish word (an English loanword appropriated into Korean), that describes the phenomena of couples wearing matching outfits. And the Korean/Dutch art couple Jang Koal and Raymond Lemstra are extending this notion with their current shared exhibition which is now on view at Everyday Mooonday Gallery in Seoul.
The inherent idea behind the term is that the differences of the individuals blend together while forming one entity, and with this idea in mind Koal and Lemstra wanted to transcend this effect into their artistic practices. Although working with generally dissimilar techniques, aesthetics, and using different color spectrums, the uniqueness and the level of development of their respective styles form a coherent presentation. Extending their continuous efforts to find harmony in a life they share, with this exhibition the two artists aim to find harmony through the subdued and intricate graphite drawings and lively and colourful paintings. And although completely distinct at the first glance, the both bodies of work share a dose of quirky strangeness which becomes a strong link between them.
Although working with other mediums and techniques (she recently released a sculptural edition), Koal's artistic practice focuses mainly on painting. Working with a clean, almost graphic visual language, the Seoul-based artist constructs elegant visuals in which female muses are immersed in a parallel world filled with butterflies, flowers, cats, etc. Contrasting bright, solid color sections, against the silky smooth surfaces and intricate patterns, she is working with relatable settings in which her muses are interacting with the objects and creatures around them. Through a highly focused framing and great attention to their facial expressions, there is a sense of uncertainty and tension in an otherwise highly harmonious and brightly colored ambient. Filled with nods of appreciation for nature as well as the strong, independent women, these peaceful snapshots do suggest an overshadowing turn of events which is eternally suspended in time.
Although regularly working with painting, Couple Look marks the gallery debut of Lemstra's portrait drawings from the Personnage Fictionnel series. Done with pencil on paper, these works utilize an intricate technique through which the Groningen-born artist constructs a great sense of volume, as well as light and depth. On one hand, the imaginary sitters are portrayed in the most archetypal poses, with light clearly revealing their figure, as well as facial and other features. From fabric patterns and folds, the shine of the hair gel, to the smoke coming out of their cigarettes, they appear authentic and real, but charmingly outdated at the first sight. Yet instantly, the otherworldly elements start appearing, abruptly removing them from the comfort of our reality and pushing them into the uncertainty of surrealness and abstraction. By employing the delicate and exact pencil drawing technique to mix the real-life attributes borrowed from vintage photos alongside fictional or abstracted elements, these portraits become a survey into the connectivity or the separation of the two unlike modes of representation. —Sasha Bogojev