PEN PAL

Lennie Mace Solo Exhibition |

Drawing a picture by hand and hanging it on a wall, in this technologically advanced generation of iPads and flat-screen 3D TV’s, sometimes seems as quaintly Twentieth Century as long distance correspondence by pen-and-paper seems to texting or email by keyboard-and-monitor. But as long as it’s still an option I’m still everyone’s Pal with a Pen, though in my case the correspondence arrives from afar as visual transcriptions of this overactive imagination…

New artwork created in Japan will be supplemented in this PEN PAL exhibition by other recent artwork not yet exhibited in America, some thirty-odd works in all. Elegantly rendered PENtings on paper and wood will be available for viewing and purchase; fully-realized, painterly environments and portraiture drawn in ballpoint pen. 2011’s PLAYPEN series continues to bear fruit, supplying a variety of content here as well; two super-sized incarnations of my Media Graffiti series seem likely to be highlights of the exhibition, in this case two Japanese subway posters elaborately embellished in ballpoint pen.

Variety is key, in fact; intricate penmanship continues to be an attraction here, but it’s no longer merely pen-on-paper. Along with works on wood, a number of recent pen-works on denim will be included, given new context and hung in the tradition of Japanese scroll-work, although re-imagined using contemporary materials.

My choice of medium has never been the sole attraction anyway; ballpoints became the preferred application, but always in service to the ideas (and mostly due to their ready availability). The imaginative content of the artwork has always aroused an equal share of interest, and a very conscious something-for-everyone approach on my part not only offers scenic alternatives to viewers, it also affords this artist the open doors necessary for further imaginative possibilities. The work can as easily lead into dark alleys or out onto fields of daisies.

Imagination minus the ballpoint-factor will be evident in several dimensional objects, including hand-worked wooden toy-cars and a related car “dis-assemblage” created in the wake of the 2011 tsunami in Japan. A “ribbon” lizard formed from aluminum strips will also be installed alongside corresponding drawings in the exhibition. Fancy Fish and Fire Escapes are among other motifs linking such varying content.

The centerpiece of this exhibition may very well be a large-scale tapestry, “Drool,” the most recent output from an ongoing collaboration with Japanese tapestry maker Hideo Yamakuchi. A woven recreation of artwork commissioned by Sympathy Records for an unrelated album cover, the original ballpoint PENting is now in a private collection and unfortunately absent, but it’s essence is conspicuously conveyed via the tapestry and other artwork borne of the same concept.
Lennie Mace, 2012

I’ve often noted that drawing with ballpoint pen is like walking a tightrope without a net; there’s basically no turning back once pen-meets-paper. But a separate fact which often goes unmentioned is that I continue to commence most artworks without preliminary sketches as well; I sit staring at the blank surface with the idea in mind (or sometimes not any in particular) and, starting very lightly, I add line by line until the image basically starts drawing itself. Over the years this method has the added merit of perfecting eye/mind/hand coordination and instilling a certain amount of self-confidence into line-work both fine and broad…

My denim drawing actually dates back to when I, bored schoolboy, directed my imagination to friends’ and my own blue jeans and jackets, applying ink as both entertainment and decoration. Leather and vinyl have also been utilized in the past…
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