Sunday, June 8, 2008

Tessar Lo's Suspended Moments

Tessar Lo is just 24 and says, "I have been – and always will be – drawing and painting." Born in Indonesia and raised near Toronto, Tessar works in a unique fusion of Asian aesthetics and pop-surreal motifs combined with evocative techniques sometimes reminiscent of the post-impressionists. He now lives and works in Los Angeles and will be participating in group shows all over the country in the coming months, culminating in his first solo show at project: gallery in early 2009.

Tessar describes his paintings as "the kinds of things I find beautiful and natural to me. I try to paint things that are momentary and surreal, in suspension. I love to include elements that are sometimes tense, but pique our interest and curiosity. I am fascinated with the idea of aging and wearing – and the changing of the meaning of images over time."

For several months, I've been keeping an eye on Tessar's work and enjoying it, but it wasn't until I saw "in between" in person at project:gallery's Insider Trading show that I was really hooked. It's subtle and sensual and emotional – it feels like a lucid dream that takes place on a summer night in which every particle of your being is fully tuned in to the cosmos... where the splendor and gravity of the universe become so overwhelming that they kind of start to pull you apart in a delicious sort of way. There is awe and terrible beauty in both the immensity of the velvety sky and the power emanating from the improbably massive tiger that lies just over the hill.

"in between"

Tessar cites his influences as "Haruki Murakami, Peter Doig, Cai Guo-Qiang, Gauguin, John Copeland, Satoshi Kon, ukiyo-e prints, childhood drawings, Yoshitomo Nara and then some." As a fan of Murakami, especially The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, I think I can sense some common resonances. Comics certainly had a role in shaping Tessar's aesthetic, as well.

"el sueno de la razon produce monstruos"
(after Goya's "Sleep of Reason")

Amazingly, Tessar has only been out of art school for about a year, but even so, his style has evolved quite a bit since then. A year and a half ago, he was already creating thoughtful, mysterious, fascinating pieces...

"what tiger knew"

"she swam with me"

"riding on this know-not"

...but since then, his work has become deeper and more atmospheric, and his technique more confident.

"the crusade"

"like the first time"

"Angel" (from the Gallery 1988 Stan Lee tribute)

Recently, Tessar described a sort of vision he's been having. When writing about it in his blog, he called it "hearing things." To me, it seems quite relevant to the quiet, introspective quality of the latest work he's been doing.

At night, sometimes I can see into parts of other worlds.
Not too much unlike my own, but the moon is brighter and sky is a huge northern light.

I know that this is the only true freedom I have.
With my eyes closed and my mind's self running around; one moment in fields, the next in snow, mud, then sands.

When I have a hard time sleeping, I imagine I am on the surface of water and I start to sink. The feeling is warm and not scary at all. Before long, I am amidst coral and strangely curious beings that are half fact, half fiction. Still looking up, I see the abnormally luminous moon and the stars through the soft surface of the water.

If I listen carefully, I can hear a story of searching.


Tessar recently mused on his blog about the new direction he's been exploring most recently, which has so far produced a few subtle yet stirring paintings like "in between," "falls" and "the search may bring salvation."

"Been thinking a lot these days about the kind of work I've been doing. I have been re-evaluating and trying to look at the work more objectively. I realized that what I have become known for, (for the few that know) is something that is moving in a different direction. Maybe I always knew that the polished, rendered work would always come secondary to the rawer, more immediate work I know. As much as it is great to engross myself in the details and preciousness of my most recent work, there is definitely a side of me that wants to throw all that out the window - and be less preoccupied with technique and structure. Does technique and structure work in the same way conceptually as physically? In the sense that if I'm being comfortable and formulaic in the work, is that ultimately paralleled by my thought process? It scares me a bit - to lose the fire for work, and the desire for new ideas. But why answers, right? Maybe an answer will put the fire out."
"the search may bring salvation"

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,

What immortal hand or eye

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?

On what wings dare he aspire?

What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder and what art

Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand and what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?

What the anvil? What dread grasp

Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,

And water'd heaven with their tears,

Did He smile His work to see?

Did He who made the lamb make thee?

Tiger, tiger, burning bright

In the forests of the night,

What immortal hand or eye

Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

William Blake, "The Tyger"

"a kind of cipher"


Anonymous said...

thanks a ton, amanda- you don't know how much this means to me.

scott belcastro said...

Indeed......very nice....mine as well....