The day i attended the London Art Fair in Islington, Karen and i came across a Gallery in Islington called the James Freeman Gallery, it is a small independent gallery showing a range of new artists work each month, the work is highly priced and varies in context. I was drawn to a painting in the window by artist Chen Hongzu who was described on the gallery website as :

“Chen Hongzhu is one of the New Generation of Chinese women: confident and rebellious, she graduated from the prestigious Central Academy of Fine Arts and her work has already been picked up by the Chinese contemporary uber-collector Uli Sigg. Influenced by American painters such as Mark Ryden and John Currin, her zoomorphic self-portraits meld surrealism with self-examination. They depict seemingly perfect porcelain dolls that are nevertheless damaged & fragile, the cuts and dripping blood on the otherwise pristine bunnies hinting at traumas faced and survived. Her paintings suggest a tragedy in beauty, a disappointed innocence, but also a steely determination to win through.”

I found myself drawn to her work because of my love of Pop Surrealism and the Low Brow art movement, i love the expressive characters which reference the physique of the sometimes eerie but very beautiful “Blythe Dolls” and the combination of sweet animal references and subtle hints at tragedy behind the mask of beauty make for mesmarizing work that leaves you entranced by the beautiful fragile creatures she creates. Her work is the kind of work i strive to achieve one day, the style of character design has similar references to my own with the large eyes and delicate features. Below are images of her work i saw in the Gallery, we could not take photographs inside so i took these from the website catalog :
CHEN025_wisdowm“The wisdom of the sea”  oil on linen, 2013

This was the piece that enticed my into the gallery, the painting technique is exquisite and there is something hypnotic about surreal interpretations of female beauty. 

Flickers: oil on linen

1546367_10153783328880151_874748084_n - Copy here is the outside of the gallery 🙂 With the piece “The wisdom of the Sea” hanging in the window.

CHEN026_trueatnightTrue at night, oil on linen, the use of the skeleton in this piece references ideas of death and mortality, contrasting that of the beautiful bright bunny girl, the piece has alot of fragility surrounding its ideas and its a large piece that is stunning to look at.

Another artist at the gallery that caught my eye is a photographer named Koh Sang Woo ( i seem to have a penchant for oriental artists” who the gallery have described as:

“Koh Sang Woo’s vibrant photographs explore an idealised version of pure love, uncorrupted by power or greed. Working with real couples or carefully chosen individuals to document their relationships, he paints onto their bodies before taking their portraits as part of a theatrical performance. By reversing the colour and light in the exposure, he gives his photographs an unmistakeable visual electricity and intense emotional charge – hyper-real romance for the IT age. Koh Sang Woo has exhibited at Christies and the Armory in New York, and SUN Contemporary in Seoul.”

I liked these photographs because the use of negative colour reminds me of heat sensitive imagery, this helps to show the emotional heat and passion of the people photographed and the colours are vibrant and pure and printed on sometime called a “C-type print” which i will have to investigate because the picture quality is perfectly sharp and true to the images on the artists website, below are some of his pieces i particularly liked:

Koh Sang Woo: Hug II

Koh Sang Woo: Ether

this one, named Esther, is particularly enthralling due to the high contast and the use of organic matter combined with colours reminiscent of a modern day technological age, there is something very sweet and innocent about the work, with the use of colour and editing techniques bringing it into the modern age.

i will create some work inspired by this gallery, especially by the work of Chen Hongzhu, who i have been very inspired by, and also that of Koh Sang Woo.


this is my response to “The wisdom of the Sea” By Chen Hongzhu , i created it using acrylic paint and coloured pencil, i love pop surrealist art so this was a fun piece to create and i find myself inspired greatly by her work.


5745_10153839479150151_1983907622_n koh responsethis is my response to Koh Sang Woo’s work, , it was fun to create, i photographed a couple in an an intimate embrace, and for added controversy i chose a photograph of females embracing which is not as socially acceptable in Korea as it in this country. Once i had the photograph i used cropping to distort the image and not make it as obvious to its context (something i picked up in a semiotics seminar) . i put the photograph into photoshop and tried to replicate Koh’s style, but with my own also, he paints on his subjects using water based paints before photographing them which i hadnt done but would like to try. I experimented with filters, hue, saturation and contrast and created several layers, then added the butterflies digitally that are one of Koh’s trademark adornments for his subjects (he also uses floral imagery). i like how this response turned out 🙂 i added a plastic filter, not to eminate Koh’s work but because i like the effect and i think gives it an artificial look that distorts the image further.



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