I’ve been thinking a lot about contemporary portraiture lately, having just given a new talk on the subject, followed by a new weekend workshop.
I’ve been drawing or painting or otherwise making portraits my entire life, and it remains an important aspect of my work.
Nowadays a lot of my portraits are photo-based, as you can see in my posts and website. I got thinking about when I first started working on photo-based and photo-digital portraits, and realized it was for my first solo show as an adult, entitled Face[t]s of Valerie, in 2007. All of the portraits were of my friend Valerie, alone or sometimes in combination with me.
This image was kind of the title piece for the show, and the deepest I explored digitally in it, (the show was multimedia, because I am nothing if not a “multi” kind of artist, lol!). It’s called The Many Facets of Valerie.
In it you can see numerous shots from the bigger shoot, allowing me to show what interested me: the living face of my subject, its variability and expressiveness. “I am large, I contain multitudes” wrote Walt Whitman, as we all are.
So it’s a seminal, developmental piece. It started a train of thought that hasn’t stopped since, though it has branched off and grown in many directions.
19"x13” digital print. And yes, it’s available.
Does this kind of post, deep-diving into an individual piece, interest you? If so, please let me know in the comments.
It’s always nice to hear that someone saw my work and both liked it enough and was in a position to purchase it so they could take it home.
“Untitled (Layered Trees)” is one of two artworks sold recently at the Take 2 exhibition at Neilson Park Creative Centre, which has its closing reception this Sunday, 2–4pm. Click here for more details. (On a sidenote, the reception is also an early-bird opportunity to register in-person for spring courses!)
This photo-based mixed media piece is 8” x 8”, on a wood panel, and layers a mounted photo-digital print under an image transfer from a piece of film that I spent considerable time altering by hand before applying.
Trees are a recurring motif in my work now that began to appear regularly once I started my anatomical hearts body of work, because the tree branches are so beautifully analogous to the branching behaviour of veins and arteries. As so often happens, our inner world reflects the outer one, because branching behaviour is a fundamental design structure in nature; it's one that I have become enchanted by.
I am drawn to the relationship between branches but also to the complexity, which reflects what I experience so often in my own mind and out in the world as I navigate a profusion of sensory inputs and relational ones as well. Complexity can become overwhelming, which some artists (eg Julie Mehretu) communicate (and create) very well.
It's interesting then that for this piece I chose to concentrate on editing the complexity, leaving only small touches of it in deliberate places.
Well that’s all very nice, but none of what I said really addresses the slightly tongue-in-cheek headline I gave this post!
That headline is rooted in my realization this year that it sometimes isn't clear that my work is almost always available for sale. Some of the more unusual formats might require a little adaptation or customization for a new, permanent home, but most of my work transfers quite easily.
It’s also true that sometimes when I’ve made a lot of new work for a show or event (like a festival) I’ve worked so hard right up until the installation that I haven't had a chance to work out pricing in time for the opening. So that can be another issue, but it’s only a temporary one :-)
I’ve had enough people ask that I thought I should clear that up!
Since I have a couple of solo shows coming up this year – March 9–21 at Cedar Ridge Creative Centre’s gallery (where I will have three rooms in their historic mansion) and in November at The Red Head Gallery in the wonderful 401 Richmond creative arts hub in downtown Toronto – I will be making more new work. My plans include a couple of large pieces but some small and medium as well, including (if my idea works out) some multiples for the Red Head show. Multiples, like print editions, are more affordable forms of artwork than a one-offs like a painting.
I’ll definitely be showing sneak peeks and works-in-progress on my social media channels, so keep your eye out there! Especially Instagram where you'll find me at @kimleekho.
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Have you ever bought original artwork (includes editions or multiples), or do you have a collection? If so, what inspired/inspires you to make the purchase and take it home (or office, or give to someone)? Was it a feeling, was there a sense of recognition, or something else?
I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
As a visual artist I like nothing more than getting up to my elbows in paint or little plastic toys, or wading in at the deep end in pursuit of an idea. When I am not teaching others in a similar vein, you can find me researching, writing and noodling around in my studio, seeing where my latest lines of inquiry lead me.
All images and content on this website © Kim-Lee Kho 2005–2018 except as indicated. All rights reserved. No reproduction without express, written permission.