Takeout Containers and Worn Sketchbooks by Artist Yoonmi Nam Explore the Permanence of Everyday Disposables
A kitchen table, countertop, or cluttered desk are all likely spots to encounter a piece by South Korean artist Yoonmi Nam. Encompassing ceramic sculptures and sparse lithographs, Nam’s body of work evokes “an ever-present, yet always changing still life,” one that displays the ubiquitous objects of her everyday in more permanent forms. A deep well to hold a bouquet carves out a stack of porcelain take-out containers, minimal prints depict a leafy branch resting in a fast-food cup, and splayed sketchbooks are covered with graph paper-style inlays that appear punctured, leaving frayed ends and stray lines.
Nam’s subject matter, whether a disposable container or notebook with a cracked cover, always has a limited lifespan, a recurring theme that tethers each of the works to questions about ephemerality and value. The artist elaborates in a statement:
I am drawn to man-made spaces and objects that we surround ourselves with, especially when they subtly suggest a contradicting sense of time that seems both temporary and lasting. In the arranged flower imagery, the flowers, once cut from their roots, have only a short remaining time to live. They will quickly wither and die, but before they do, they are elegantly and elaborately arranged, as if time will stand still for them. The containers that hold them are disposable objects, such as a yogurt cup, a Styrofoam take-out box, and an instant noodle bowl. These throwaway objects and cut flowers engage in a dialogue that speaks about impermanence and persistence.
Nam has a few ceramic pieces and lithographs available from Paradigm Gallery in Philadelphia, and some of her new delivery box-inspired sculptures are on view as part of 2021 Kansas City Flatfile + Digitalfile, which runs through October 14 at the Kansas City Art Institute. You also can explore a larger selection of her works on Instagram.
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U.K.-based artist Brendan Dawes channels the infinite crystalline shapes of snowflakes in a new collaboration with Field Notes. For its 49th limited-edition series, the Chicago-based notebook manufacturer tasked Dawes with designing an algorithm that mimics the atmospheric process that forms the icy grooves and feathered shoots. After a lengthy development inspired by the work of physicist Kenneth G. Libbrecht, Dawes created 99,999 unique snowflake illustrations to wrap around the deep blue covers. Just like the real crystals, no two are the same.
Support Colossal by picking up a three-pack of Snowy Evening in the Colossal Shop, along with Field Notes’ United States of Letterpress, which features notebooks designed by nine printers across the nation.
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Field Notes Launches New Collection of Letterpress Notebooks Designed by Nine Printers Across the U.S.
For its latest limited edition series, Field Notes tasked nine letterpress shops with capturing the diverse perspectives and histories of the nation through a pocket-sized design. United States of Letterpress is a pastel collection of memo notebooks featuring renderings of small storefronts, geometric patterns, and various slogans, including nods to the upcoming presidential election. Each holds 48 pages of graph paper.
To coincide with the launch, the Chicago-based notebook manufacturer filmed a short documentary, directed by Steve Delahoyde, capturing the processes and history of the art form. The printers involved—which includes Genghis Kern, Full-Circle Press, Mama’s Sauce, Brad Vetter, Springtide Press, Ben Blount, Erin Beckloff, Rick Griffith, and Starshaped Press—speak to the generosity of the printing community, the challenges of the medium, and the endurance of traditional type and equipment. They also details the tactile process of designing and creating their contributions.
For the special collection, Field Notes sent the independent printers cover paper in a different color and asked them to use the same two inks, Rhubine Red and Process Blue. Employing a variety of vintage metal, wood type, laser cutting, and photopolymer plates, some producers submitted two designs, which were added at random into the packs. “There is so much history and tradition in each hand-printed piece, and we wanted to honor that while also showcasing the phenomenal work that modern practitioners of the craft are producing,” co-founder Jim Coudal said.
Support Colossal by picking up a three-pack of Field Notes’ United States of Letterpress in the Colossal Shop.
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Some meals leave an impression—you might remember the cherry pie your grandma always made or a multi-course dinner consisting of toast and caviar, a mound of shaved truffle topping pasta, and wagyu tartare. Rather than solely rely on his memory to envision the fare he’s enjoyed, though, Japanese chef Itsuo Kobayashi has been painting and describing in detail the dishes he’s eaten for the past 32 years in a series of notebooks and standalone works.
While an interesting look at Kobayashi’s nourishment, the detailed projects are also a growing collection of outsider art. N. Kushino, who runs Kushino Terrace gallery in Fukuyama, Japan, and represents Kobayashi, tells Colossal that the artist begins by writing detailed passages of what he eats before going back to create his appetizing illustrations.
What stands out is that all of these drawings feature an overhead perspective so that all of the ingredients of the food Kobayashi depicts can be seen. Furthermore, in the blank spaces in his compositions, the artist writes the names and prices of, and his opinions about the food and the ingredients he portrays. He adds positive descriptive words about his subjects, such as “delicious,” so that he may provoke good memories when he later looks at the drawings.
For many years, Kobayashi cooked at a soba restaurant and provided meals for schools until he was diagnosed with alcoholic neuritis, a debilitating condition that reduced his mobility. Now, the artist mostly works from home, ordering take-out often and continuing to detail his meals at length. Since he started the creative project at age 18, Kobayashi has produced more than 1,000 illustrations. “For him, painting and living have the same meaning. The disease (makes it) more and more difficult to walk, but he does not stop painting,” Kushino says. Most recently, Kobayashi has begun shaping pop-ups in his works featuring bowls of tempura seafood and piles of noodles.
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Back for an eighth year, the annual Moleskine Project, curated by Rodrigo Luff and Spoke Art, brings together a diverse slate of artists all working within the confines of a Moleskine notebook. Featuring over fifty artists from around the world, this year’s exhibiting artists include Laura Berger (previously), Kevin Peterson (previously), and Martine Johanna. Luff describes the mission of the show as “a tribute to how artists have developed and grown by using sketchbooks to dive deeper into the personal realms that fuel their artwork. An energetic visual dialogue of imagery flows from frame to frame, forming a collective sketchbook that allows us to appreciate the radically individual approach taken by each artist.”
The Moleskine Project show opened on June 1 and runs through June 22, 2019 at Hashimoto Contemporary in San Francisco. You can keep up with the bi-coastal gallery’s upcoming events on Instagram and Facebook.
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Recently Digitized Journals Grant Visitors Access to Leonardo da Vinci's Detailed Engineering Schematics and Musings
The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London recently published scans of two of the Leonardo da Vinci notebooks so website visitors can digitally zoom and flip through the drawings and musings of the Italian Renaissance painter, architect, inventor, and sculptor. Jumbled together in the delicate journals are thoughts on both science and art—detailed charts and speculations contained on the same pages as observational sketches of hats or horse hooves.
Da Vinci is believed to have started recording his thoughts in notebooks during the 1480s while he was a military and naval engineer for the Duke of Milan. The writing included in the notebooks was produced in 16th-century Italian “mirror-writing,” which one reads right to left. Scholars have debated the reasoning behind this style, believing it was either a way to code his thoughts, or simply make writing easier as a left-handed artist. “Writing masters at the time would have made demonstrations of mirror-writing, and his letter-shapes are in fact quite ordinary: he used the kind of script that his father, a legal notary, would have used,” an article on the V&A’s website explains. “It is possible to decipher Leonardo’s curious mirror-writing, once the eye has become accustomed to the style.”
The collective title for the five notebooks in the V&A’s collection is the Forster Codices. This digitized set contains his earliest (1487-90, Milan) and latest (1505, Florence) notebooks in the museum’s collection. The name for the journals comes from John Forster who bequeathed the valuable works to the museum in 1876. The V&A plans to digitize the three other notebooks found in the two volumes Codex Forster II and III, for the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death in 2019. You can learn more about the series of notebooks in the collection on the V&A’s website. (via Boing Boing)
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Editor's Picks: History
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.