Category Archives: art

Time to Show Some Work

I started early applying for shows this year. Last year, I didn’t really do to many shows, but this year, I plan to be more aggressive. With most in-person galleries out of the question due to the omicron variant of the coronavirus, I’ve been more focused with publications and showing work online or either sending it to galleries overseas. What I do notice though is that North America and Europe to a greater extent is very open to international artists. There’s always opportunities for competitions, calls for submissions, and residencies. I’ve actually been accepted in a couple of residencies last year, but just before I’m about to commit, covid surges yet again and my plans have to be scrapped.

Two places I’m having the most trouble in trying to break into are Hong Kong and Japan. I’ve always loved Hong Kong. I used to go there quite frequently before China started cracking down on protesters. What I noticed in galleries is that they’re mostly interested in Chinese artists and not much else. I realize there’s a great trend for Chinese art, but what about locals looking for other artists? It’s very difficult to get my work in the city. The same goes for Japan. It seems that galleries, at least the ones looking for artists, are exclusively interested in those that make Japanese-style art or art about Japan. I don’t make either. I don’t make anime/manga, nor do I feel qualified to make any serious work related to Japanese culture. Heck, I don’t even think I make Canadian art! If anyone knows of any galleries in these two places interested in work that is more in my vein, please let me know.

It’s my mom’s birthday today. She was a wonderful woman. I’m not sure if my dad realizes how lucky he was. I know I didn’t truly appreciate her when she was still alive.

My book is almost done and am now ready for test printing and perhaps even selling them locally. With the postal services being devastated by the pandemic, it still won’t make sense for me to sell them overseas, but I still plan to meet my schedule of making another book this year. I’m thinking of printing next month once I’m less busy with my taxes and getting my car fixed. And no, I really don’t plan on making money out of these publishing projects. It’s just a way for me to mark my artistic progress.

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Actual Art

Despite the new surge of covid cases around the world, it’s a great time for art lovers in Seoul, and thankfully, I’m not talking about NFTs.

First off, there’s a great exhibition of around 200 pieces by Matisse on display. I remember spending a month studying his works in art history and finally seeing them in Minneapolis and Chicago. ‘La Danse’ is a favorite and I’ve seen it influence many artists. I even tried to do a poor version of it myself. Despite being a giant in the arts, I always feel like he’s unjustly overshadowed by Picasso and other artists. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but I think everyone has seen a work by Matisse but only a few could name him as the artist.

Dali’s works are also being exhibited and I’ve seen his advertisements for his exhibitions everywhere. Maybe his famous looks are more famous than his works because they’ve been using his face with that ridiculous mustache to in the posters, which I guess is as he intended. He kinda became just as a famous as a celebrity as much as his art (a celebrity Picasso hated due to Dali’s support of Francisco Franco, the Spanish dictator). His ridiculous imagery has inspired me through the years, and as someone who makes Dada-esque imagery, I can’t help but admire him. However, I kinda resented his celebrity persona and being one of the early “zany” artists. I think ever since him, many artists try too hard to look, dress, and act funny. Can’t we all just be normal? Just as trying to fit in can be tiring, being unconventional can be stressful as well.

Speaking of celebrity artists, Andy Warhol’s works are also on display, but I feel like his works are always on display in the city. Him, Picasso, and Klimt.

Lichtenstein’s works can also be seen in the city and is probably the one I’m most exited about. I’ve seen his works before, but apparently they’re showing a significantly large collection of his works. Seeing the blown up comic book pages in person is so much more impactful than just seeing it on screen. Another artist with a large number of works being shown is Chagall, but honestly, I don’t know much about Chagall. I find it interesting that on of the impressionist’s works (‘Over the Town’) just happens to look like the poster for a movie I’ve been hunting down and wanting to see, Roy Andersson’s ‘About Endlessness.’

Oh and speaking of Dadaism, a bunch of Surrealist works are on display at the Seoul Art Museum for three more months. It features works by Duchamp, Man Ray, Magritte, and other artists.

Anyway, it’s a good time to look at art once the covid situation calms down and I get boosted. I’m already scheduled for a shot in a couple of weeks and it seems that the recent covid surge in Seoul is finally starting to get under control, especially since tighter protocols have been reinstated.

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A Year in Review

First off, covid has gone up, gone down, and gone up again in South Korea. I got my two jabs and will be ready for my booster next month. Despite the high numbers, I managed to not catch the virus. The tracing and tracking in the country as well as the treatment has been good, so the death rate has been quite low and the numbers are believable. The country also has a vaccine pass rule everywhere, and no, it’s not tyrannical. If anything, it’s liberating to know that everyone in the establishment I go to has been vaccinated and that I will be warned if anyone got covid anywhere I went to.

This year, I started regularly seeing a therapist and have been religious with my drugs. It’s helping and I do look forward to each of our sessions. I feel like I have too much control over our sessions sometimes, but I’m glad that he’s helped with my anxiety, depression, and addictive personality. I had a public nervous breakdown last summer while I was arguing with my wife, and I vowed not to revisit that bar again nor put myself in similar situations. It’s just too triggering.

I also started to study more Korean by myself. It’s difficult, but going to class has been impossible. I miss meeting people and making friends in class, but I guess that’s part of being older. Making friends is difficult.

I haven’t gone to the gym for two years now. I miss it. I try to work out more at home and climb stairs more, but it doesn’t compare going to the gym. But it doesn’t matter really. It’s not like I’m going to the beach anytime soon. I’ve eaten way too much Burger King this year. My favorite Subway Sandwich place has closed down, and now due to laziness and me often eating lunch at my dek, I just grab a burger from the Burger King next door. In other food news, my new favorite place for dining is this Japanese lamb place in Yeonnam-dong. Good food, good price, great Japanese ambiance, friendly staff, decent sake. One of the servers is a kickass tattoo artist as well.

I used to not be a driver, but this year I became a motorist. I can’t travel outside of the country so I might as well travel outside of the city. I got a car, it’s an Audi A4. It’s already in need of some body work, not my fault, but I’m going to ignore it for now. I think it adds some character, plus, I can sense that it won’t be the first scratch my car is going to get in the next few months. In a country filled with Hyundai Avantes, it’s a bit slicker than the average 4-door sedan. But in the words of Marv from Sin City, “Modern cars- they all look like electric shavers.”

I didn’t travel outside of the country but I did go outside of Seoul and had the worst sashimi ever. Never eat machine-sliced sashimi. Aside from a lack of TLC, it’s simply disgusting.

Artwise, I’ve been consistently producing works. It’s therapeutic and very calming. It’s been very difficult to get my work shown and I imagine it’s going to be the same next year. I didn’t apply to too many shows this year, which was disappointing, but it doesn’t make much financial sense to me to send my work overseas with the way covid has devastated postal services and made sending works exorbitantly expensive if not impossible. Sales have been dismal as well, but that’s the same throughout my art career. I don’t really care much about sales. I did publish a second book last February, a plan from 2020 which I actually followed through on. Now, I’m contemplating publishing another book next year. And no, I’m not making nor buying any NFTs. The only people who are saying NFTs are good are usually ones who are already invested and shilling NFTs. It’s rare to find NFTs actually uplifting artists. And even funnier, I found a post asking, “What is a good way to print or display NFTs on a wall?” Haha!

Unfortunately, I’ve stopped gardening. I moved to a new office and I no longer have the space to cultivate plants. I’m glad to have maintained it for a while and even given out several seedlings to people. I’m hoping at least half of them are still alive. Oh, and I also learned that cherry pits are not toxic. Not two cherry pits, not thirty, not sixty. They are simply not toxic.

Family’s been okay, but I haven’t been seeing eye to eye with my dad this year. I haven’t called that often and when I do, he often frustrates me. I really should try harder, but I keep thinking why? Why do his children have to try harder to get along better with him? Why is the effort seemingly always from our side? What about him? I don’t see him making things better for himself? This is the year I gave up caring too much.

It’s late but I think the ‘The French Dispatch’ is the best movie I’ve seen this year. Wes Anderson is a treasure. I’m still upset that my bestfriend back in the 90s couldn’t appreciate the genius of ‘Rushmore.’ Other movies I enjoyed; I was surprised with Nicolas Cage’s ‘Pig’ and delighted by “The White Tiger.” I couldn’t think of anything too remarkable on television. I’ve see quite a few Korean dramas but nothing stands out. Everyone was raving about ‘Squid Game,’ but frankly, I didn’t think it was that special. Videogame-wise, I enjoyed ‘Persona 5 Strikers’ and ‘Resident Evil: Village’ the most. Otherwise, I haven’t played too many video games this year. Also, I’ve yet to get a PS5. I wish I could read more books, but most of the books I’ve been reading are Korean learning books. No fiction this year. I’ve fallen behind on Chuck Palahniuk. Music, I’ve given up on anything new. I’ve been listening to a lot of Sparklehorse and Vic Chestnutt, which I realize is not really the best for my mental well-being.

There’s been a couple of close calls, but I almost died twice this year. Each day, I’m grateful that I’m still breathing air. Tired of living, but grateful that I am. Dying is scary. Here’s to 2022, which I suspect is going to be exactly like 2020. I’ll be moving houses, renewing my contract at work, trying to get into a Speedo before summer, get into more art shows, and hopefully improve my relationships. God help me.

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Farewell, Bond!

I finally saw the latest James Bond film and the last of the Daniel Craig movies for the franchise. I normally don’t post movie reviews here, but there’s nothing much art-related stuff I could talk about at the moment and I have a three-hour lecture tonight which is making me nervous, so I thought I would do some writing to calm me down, just some random thoughts about the franchise and the latest film.

A few years ago, I decided to watch all of the Bond films in chronological order. I’ve seen it go from semi-serious, to campy, to more grounded, back to campy, and then back to the grounded semi-seriousness of the Craig films. I gotta say, Daniel Craig is my favorite Bond. Purists will always give the title to Sean Connery, but I can’t help but see him from millennial’s perspective, the casual misogyny and perhaps even downright rapiness is hard for me to get over with. Others enjoy Pierce Brosnan’s turn as Bond, but I never really enjoyed the franchise during that era. I found Brosnan a bit too cheesy and the writing of the movies too silly. Also, before he became 007, he didn’t realize that his wife’s ex-husband was disguised as their elderly nanny. You gotta be sharper than that, James!

The latest film was good. It didn’t really feel that long as things kept on moving. In fact, it kept moving so fast that the main villain’s motives barely registered. He was out for revenge? But once he got his revenge, why did he want to kill so many people? What’s going on? It’s sad to say, but the main villain is actually the weakest part of the movie for me. He just wasn’t that interesting. And for Spectre to be built up as this massive organization overshadowing so many evil plots across the movies… for it to be undone by a boring villain that seem to come out of nowhere, is really unsatisfying. Javier Bardem’s Raoul Silva was a great villain in the Craig films and wasn’t really matched by Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld. Then it was followed by Mr. Robot. I now appreciate Christoph Waltz’s performance (and ‘Spectre’s’ writing) much more.

Lea Seydoux was great as Madeleine Swann, but I actually found her quite forgetable in the film prior, so I was surprised to see her back in this film. If anything, what stole the movie was Ana De Armas’ performance and action sequence in Cuba. The first time I saw her was in a regretable Eli Roth film and I didn’t really get her appeal even after I saw her a couple more times in ‘Knives Out’ and ‘Blade Runner 2049.’ In ‘No Time to Die,’ I finally got it. Consider me a fan. I thought having a black female 007 was a smart little wink as well. It would be interesting to see more adventures of Lashana Lynch as a secret agent, but I think it was all just a cinematic coño to the obnoxious man-o-sphere who insists that 007 should never be black nor female.

It was not the best film among Craig’s Bond turn but it was a good enough ending. It had great sequences, the score was great as usual, and it left me wondering and excited at who the next 007 will be. It was a very utilitarian movie and it served its purpose, much like Craig’s Bond has been described as a “blunt instrument.” I think the best Craig film would either be ‘Casino Royale’ or ‘Skyfall.’ So for the uninitiated, go watch the first Craig film instead. But for those who enjoy the series, this movie should be fun.

For the longest time, I never really cared for the James Bond franchise and thought it was a relic of a power fantasy meant to be enjoyed by dads and uncles. Maybe that’s still true since I didn’t really truly enjoy it until I was in my mid twenties. These days, I see it more as my “Fast and the Furious”… my Marvel Cinematic Universe film, my super hero film on steroids. As much as I enjoy spy thrillers, like 2019’s ‘The Spy’ starring Sacha Baron Cohen (surprisingly!), it’s always good to see a fantastical secret agent do his mission with so much finesse and with a catchy blaring orchestral melody.

Oh and as for best theme. I love the original ‘Dr. No’ theme and it’s many reincarnations. I also think “Goldfinger” is great. But truly, the best and sexiest song ever written is “Nobody Does it Better.”

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Helping Randos

I’ve become a creature of Reddit. It’s awul but it’s nice. After being banned from Twitter, I devoted most of my SNS time on Instagram. But now I’m finding myself more on Reddit, sticking my nose on other people’s business and giving advice when asked. I find that Reddit is more concerned with developing communities and being helpful to whatever people’s interests are, as opposed to Twitter which is like a rage machine. Anyway, thank goodness for Reddit.

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Take the Money? What Money?

Danish museum, Kunsten Museum of Modern Art, paid artist Jens Haaning 534,000 kroner to recreate two of his works from over a decade ago. Calculating the cost of material and labor, Jen Hanning says that it was criminally low and would’ve required him to pay money out of his own pockets to recreate the two works. Now, Haaning is a known conceptual artist and I really have no idea how much reproducing the works would cost, but he decided to just pocket the money and rename the series ‘Take the Money and Run,’ and sent the museum two blank canvases. The museum in return, hangs the two canvasses as part of an exhibition examining the relationship between art and labor, but ironically still plans to get the money back from Haaning, accusing him of breach of contract.

As conceptual art, bravo Jens Haaning! Excellent. Artists’ works are criminally undervalued. Artists are often seen as doing a hobby and are expected to finance their art with “real” jobs. It’s not uncommon to hear artists being asked to produce work for “exposure.” Heck, even making art and posting it on Instagram (which I do), technically gives Facebook millions of artistic work as content for free. So when Jens Haaning refused to honor the contract after being paid what he felt was too low, as an artist, I couldn’t help but root for him.

But as someone who has a basic understanding of contracts, Jens Haaning orchestrated the whole thing and played the Kunsten museum. He’s a bad actor, not a victim. For a contract to be valid, there must be a valid offer, acceptance, consideration, mutual obligation, and both parties must be competent in the time of their agreement. No one forced Haaning to agree to reproduce his works for the price he calls “criminally low.” He could very well have negotiated to a higher and more suitable compensation for his labor. But he didn’t. Instead, he agreed to a contract which I suspect he had no plans to fulfill in order to make viral news, appealing to the sympathies of artists worldwide. The museum in return gets to benefit a bit from the notoriety and will no doubt see more people through its doors hoping to see a blank canvas.

Let’s not get carried away here. The stunt is closer to a banana on a wall than an upturned urinal. It may be speaking of truths that artists suffer through, but I can’t help but feel that the artist is distastefully cynical in his approach. Whether the museum gets its money back or not will not change the value and the meaning of the two original canvasses. I doubt if it would hurt the artist much as well. Even if he does get sued, I’m sure it will be settled without hurting him financially. In fact, being sued might benefit him more and gain him more notoriety. But while ‘Take the Money and Run’ tries to address how artists are criminally undervalued, I believe in the long run, it will only contribute to the notion that art is excessive, ridiculous, and arbitrary, and thus perpetuate the harm Haaning claims he’s shining a light on among artists. After all, how could two canvasses be worth 534,000 kroner?

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Goodbye, Norm.

Norm MacDonald passed away a couple of days ago. Now I don’t agree with everything he says, but he is one my favorite comics in the world. It breaks my heart to know that I’ll never heard any new material or pearls of wisdom from him. I truly identify with his humor, his weaknesses, his rants, and his propensity for non sequiturs.

Not many people knew that he had cancer for over nine years. He purposely kept it from the public. It’s funny looking back at his materials, especially the one about cancer and “bravely battling cancer.” He noted that no one really battles cancer, and if you die from cancer, you don’t really lose. Since the cancer also dies with you, it’s technically a tie. There are many popular Youtube clips of him, but I’m sure that one cancer bit is one among many that people will be watching.

One thing he mentioned in one of his shows however is that when someone is afflicted with cancer, people tend to talk about their experiences regarding their suffering. It amplifies the suffering and perhaps that’s where the term “battling cancer” comes from, because it lionizes them. In sharing their experience, they willingly or perhaps unwittingly garner sympathy which is in many ways not brave. What’s brave is keeping it to yourself, and shielding people from the pain and suffering you are feeling. When someone has cancer, it is not a unique thing that is happening to them. Most people get cancer. And the insight regarding suffering through cancer is something that most people will know soon enough. Best to keep that to yourself and have people lead normal and happy lives for as long as you can afford it.

He mentioned the stuntman and actor Richard Farnsworth whose last film was ‘The Straight Story,’ about a man who rode a riding lawnmower across the United States. He starred in the movie while he was suffering from cancer and never told anyone. He was nominated for Best Actor in 1999 and lost to Kevin Spacey for ‘American Beauty.’ Norm can’t help but think that if people knew that it was probably Farmsworth’s last film and that he was currently dying of cancer, he would’ve easily won the award. But Farnsworth kept it to himself because he didn’t want anyone’s sympathy. So the Academy went to an accused rapist.

Now, I see where he is coming from. But my mother passed away at a much younger age than him and deteriorated quickly after her diagnosis. She never used her cancer to garner sympathy, nor did she want anyone’s sympathy. She just let her children know that she was sick. In fact, she kept me and my older sister out of the city as much as she can while she was ill. She told us that things we’re okay and that we didn’t need to visit. It wasn’t until her last days that I was asked to come back home and be with my dying mother. I knew why she did that. She was thinking much like Norm MacDonald. She was shielding us from the pain and suffering, and wanted us to live our lives normally. But looking back, I really wish she was less brave and asked for us to come home sooner. I really wish I got to spend more time with her.

Much like ‘Rashomon,’ I guess it all depends on whose perspective it is. To the ones with cancer, perhaps they don’t really want to gather sympathy. They don’t want to share their suffering with others. But as for their loved ones, they simply want to take the suffering away from their dying relative. They want to sympathize and lionize them, in many ways eulogize their loved ones while they can still hear what they are saying. They want to make the passage of death softer and easier because their own fear and insecurities of confronting their own deaths in the future.

In any case, the world is a sadder and less interesting place without Norm MacDonald. Even in death, he got people thinking and perhaps smiling. I love you, Norm.

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Inktober is Coming

Inktober is almost here. The prompts for every day of October is already out. One thing I’ve learned to appreciate about this October drawing initiative is that not only does it encourage people to make art, but it also does the hardest thing about drawing for me: coming up with ideas of what to draw. I think I spend half of my time tormenting myself thinking of what to draw as opposed to actually drawing. Thank you, Inktober. Here’s to trying to keep up with all of the daily prompts!

I just realized that it’s been a while since I’ve applied to any shows. Being busy and with the pandemic, it’s been very difficult to find an outlet which could cater to my works. I do make art regularly, it’s just that I haven’t been very active in trying to get them out there, especially with the postal services messed up and prices to send work overseas skyrocketing. There are tons of opportunities out there online, but I haven’t been spending the time getting my heart broken by applying to juried shows. It’s time to get busy.

The image here is one that was suggested to me. Make a busy traffic scene. I didn’t want to end up with the opening scene of ‘La La Land’ or the music video for ‘Everybody Hurts,’ one of REM’s worst songs, so I tried to look at traffic from an unusual point of view, from down below. Unfortunately, I’m not sure it fully translates. Half the time, I have to explain to people what is going on and why they are only seeing the undersides of cars.

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On OnlyFans

So what was that whole thing with Onlyfans about? Well, just a quick recap of the events. Onlyfans, a platform that is made popular by creators selling homemade pornography, has grown even bigger due to the pandemic and many adult-performers opting out of mainstream pornographic productions. Looking for bigger investors, they announced that they will no longer be hosting sexually-explicit content, effectively alienating the creators that made them big to begin with. After a huge backlash from their creators and users, the company decided to go back on their announcement and continue to allow sexually-explicit content “for the moment.”

The initial move has been compared to Tumblr banning sexually-explicit content. For those unfamiliar with the events, Tumblr used to be huge, rivaling Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit. Then it decided to ban sexually-explicit content and its user base just plummeted. Now barely anyone uses Tumblr. Now, the sexually-explicit content Tumblr had wasn’t just raunchy pornography, it also included blogs on the LGBTQ community which were underrepresented online. But due to being forced by Apple, which has a notoriously anti—pornography stance, Tumblr had to follow suit in order to be available on Apple’s IOS platform and thus lost most of its value. Not many people remember it, but the whole thing reminds me more of Playboy magazine when it decided not to feature nude pictorials anymore. It was a move that spectacularly failed and had to be reversed later on when the publisher realized that GQ already exists.

I read commentary that Onlyfans needed to weed out sexually-explicit content in order to please payment processors like Mastercard who are quite conservative. Some even blamed Christian lobbyists as the ones pushing for the move. I also read that the problem that investors and payment processors are trying to avoid is the risk of being involved in child pornography. Onlyfans, being a platform for homemade pornography, it is possible for content with minors in it to be hosted in the platform. That, and perhaps other legal albeit unusual proclivities that investors might not be comfortable with. Now, instead of Onlyfans investing more money in policing their content, prematurely decided to scuttle the most profitable portion of their users. Laziness plus greed.

With that in mind, it also reminds me of the pump and dump scheme prevalent among cryptocurrencies these days. Influential personalities will publicize a new cryptocurrency, not mention that they are invested heavily on it, or perhaps even the creators of the cryptocurrency, and once people buy a huge amount of the cryptocurrency, they sell all of their shares and watch the value plummet on all of the people who trusted them. I’m thinking the heads at Onlyfans were trying to secure huge investments in order to expand, increase the value of the company, leave the company with their golden parachutes, and watch a pornless Onlyfans shrink to oblivion. The only problem was the backlash was so swift and so severe that their investors and payment processors got wind of the inevitable downfall that the plan had to be postponed.

And I say postponed because Onlyfans already showed their cards. Their creators better start looking for a plan B should Onlyfans finally decide to ditch them for good.

Regarding to the initial reactions, however. There were two interesting camps. The one trending on Twitter were the ones celebrating the downfall of Onlyfans and meme-ing that the girls on Onlyfans now have to find real jobs. Well, first off, sex-work is actual work. If anything, I think the men celebrating the plight of sexworkers are the same men who secretly enjoy pornography but don’t really pay for them. They hate women and feel slighted by not having the option of being able to take of their clothes and have swarms of women willing to pay for their time online.

The other interesting camp are from adult actresses who believe Onlyfans is offering a false sense of security among its creators. They are also giving naive young girls an “easy way out” by making easy money online. This is a more interesting take which I’m more keen on hearing. Apparently, Onlyfans is not very keen on its security and creators often have to deal with being hacked, stalked, and terrorized online. Not to mention that nudes online can easily be leaked and once your nudes are online, it’s there forever, often for free. Creators are also competing with one another. One girl posting for the first time is competing with several others who have bigger user bases, more content, and more experience with the platform. I do wonder how many people actually make a decent amount of money on Onlyfans and stick with it as compared to those who try it out for a few months and just flame out.

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Moth Joke

I was on vacation and this is me being a tad lazy and uninspired. It’s my version of my favorite Norm MacDonald material. Life is super sad. It can be tragic. But we can still smile, fake it, and move on.

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