Yi-Shin Tzeng's Magazine Project

by Carla Aaron-Lopez

Bloody Boy
“Bloody Boy” by Yi-Hsin Tzeng

I get excited when people find humor in everyday household objects. Think of a magazine. We pass by them all the time at grocery stores, convenience stores, doctor’s offices and in our homes. Some of us pay a ridiculous amount of attention to what is said in them while others use them to pass the time while waiting for the bus or riding a train. The one thing we often forget while reading them is that their purpose is to sell, sell, sell. Enter Yi-Hsin Tzeng, a Savannah College of Art and Design painting graduate student. For one month (Nov. 7 – Nov. 29, 2009) at Young Blood Gallery in Atlanta, Tzeng’s series “My Magazine Project” will be on display consisting of her collection of works on paper, paintings and magazine recreations. Her artist statement starts with a quote by Simon Well, “Beauty often promises, but never gives.” I couldn’t agree more. After looking at her works, one can’t help but draw a relationship between how she has defaced the beautiful people in magazines with Takeshi Murakami’s 2002 painting “Tan Tan Bo Puking.”

Tzeng and Murakami seem to share commentary on the decadent nature of pop culture. Murakami focused on the excessive nature of Japanese pop culture while Tzeng focused on fashion/lifestyle magazines she found here in the US. Together I saw a response to the overwhelming nature of the advertising and marketing industry. A fashion ad doesn’t just sell clothes. It also sells a lifestyle and way of thinking. Let’s not forget that sex is also utilized to make the consumer appear that if they were to purchase an advertised product then they attract many different appealing mates. Now when the consumer is pressed over and over again with ideals to purchase, purchase, purchase we then have a development of a false sense of reality.

Tzeng has taken the photographs in magazines and appropriated the nature of them into her own. On top of the original image she hand-painted anthropomorphic forms that are just as cartoonish as the nature of the original image. The shapes at first appear to be cloud-like but reveal a new layer to the image by representing the decadent excess pouring out of the people’s portraits. The forms then take on a life of their own by consuming the entirety of the image. I prefer that the work is playful and humorous. It reminds me of being a teenager and having a playful commentary for things that appear different. Tzeng is currently collecting a year’s worth of images and making her own magazines with the finished products.

Carla Aaron-Lopez is an artist living in Atlanta.

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