There’s a theory that our brains are hardwired to recognize shapes and forms in even the haziest of abstractions…that darkened laundry pile at night became a monster when you were little and now the plastic bag in the road becomes a white rabbit that causes you to swerve just slightly. This is the Gestalt effect; the form-generating capability of our senses, particularly in the visual field. This is the departure point from which artist KuBO takes his flying leap. He uses abstract shapes to challenge your eye-brain connection and see what you come up with. Manipulation isn’t the right word, but it’s the first one that comes to mind…
Born in Germany, KuBO now calls the bustling city of Hong Kong his home. Combining well structured scientific thinking and working with artistic alchemy, he has the uncommon ability to use both hemispheres of his brain and glides easily back and forth between the opposing fields. His scientific knowledge has given him the wherewithal to formulate and create his own paints. These are not your run-of-the-mill burnt siennas and raw umbers; these are colors with massive depth to them, the kind that you thought only nature could provide until now. If you look at one of his works outside in the sun, it transforms from a beautiful painting into a stunning landscape seen from above. This effect is created by layers upon layers (between ten and 30!) and layers of paints and binding agents, all of which react to each other in different ways to make completely unique pieces. And not only are they pretty to look at but practical too: his colors have the highest rating of color-fastness possible. KuBO’s colorful paintings are full to the brim with Gestalt, just waiting for the viewer to complete the picture in their mind. He says of his own work, “As a viewer, some automatic process is already starting…your brain starts to fill in and make up stories. What is the connection between these things? I just bring it to the critical point and at the end your brain is just starting this process…whatever happens in your mind, it’s up to you”.
In his series of works called “Artifacts from Good Old Times”, KuBO uses in-camera manipulation to take us to that critical point. Again he utilizes his scientific brain to redirect the way his camera captures light. No Photoshop or post-production. Once he hits the shutter, what you see is what you get. And what you see is yet another brightly colored Rorschach. KuBO’s photos are reminiscent of walking in a dense fog: you think you might see something but you’re unsure of the connection or why your brain is telling your eyes that you’re seeing something that is probably wrong. These photographs are not dealing with reality; there is no reality, according to KuBO, and these photographs are only our perception of what we assume exists. Like good old times. We assume that the good old times were back when our grandparents or parents were young, but it’s not. It’s now. Because in the photos that we snap, we capture that “good old-ness” that someday someone will look at and say, “those were the good old times…”