28 Apr 2011

Artist 86: Amy Goh

The Birth of Oedipus


"on tonight's still night
moon gapes like cat's eye gleaming
dangerously low

in corners of hearts
shadows bury like earthworms
through tunnels clammed close

sleepless and restless
I sing through solitude's shell
songs of phantom seas"

A new artist feature now on the fantastic Amy Goh. She is not just an illustrator, poet and photographer but the guardian of a whole working method and concept so intertwined, that to divorce her work from her way of seeing things, would be to fail to understand it. She has developed a great style, which uses detailed almost diorama like scenes that overflow with her imagination and musings. Her work has a technical skill and grace but her strength lies in her ability to convey her uncompromising and raw imagination without letting it break down or become diluted. She simply vents into the paper and her work is as intricate as it is dark. She has the same hints of Victoriana that run through the work of artists such as Mark Ryden though her work has a different path and she uses this visual language to great effect when creating her images. The viewer is at once drawn in and diverted, as if taken into a maze where the initial subject dissolves into the tableaux. It is a really strong way of working to incorporate her illustration into her intense artistic practice and she does well to give it the distinctiveness and craft that it needs to stand up for her as an artist and not a concept.

Who are you:
Amy Goh.

What do you do:
I am a English Major and East Asian Studies + German literature minor at Mcgill, but I freelance as an artist on the side. I'm also working on the set design for a video game in the style of a Victorian paper puppet theatre this summer.

How did you start:
I actually started drawing again pretty recently (last fall) after a long haitus. I took this course in the German Department called "The Grotesque" and we read all sorts of eclectic material from the Grimm's Fairytales, to 19th century writings on the sublimity of poetry, to Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy and the Tin Drum. We also watched strange early Fritz Lang films and had many invigorating conversations. My professor for that course was rather revolutionary, and encouraged me to create strange dream artefacts and art cosmologies in lieu of 8-page essays. We even made a grotesque-pedia as a class! It was so inspiring I ended up creating the Grotesque series as a result. After that, I really haven't been able to stop. Art has helped me heal in ways I never imagined was possible. One of my foremost goals is that it will do something similar for others by reaching out in that obtuse way and touch people the way folktales do. If the wound in me can speak to the wound in you through the language of dreams, my dream has already been fulfilled (as cheesy as that sounds, I strongly believe that art can have that kind of power, especially when imbued with the power of narratives and personal mythologies).

A Personal statement about you or your work:
My images are inspired by a drive to articulate a language that can describe the land of sunken cities dreaming, beyond the veil of daytime reality. I derive my imagery from unconscious embarkations to such shadowy shores of dream from which I try to bring back fragmented narratives that I hopes will resonate with daily anxieties and fears. I like to hide stories, narratives, motifs, people and secrets in my drawings, many of which only I know of! It always excites me when people see something different that I have not noticed before; I'm really just a channel for these things to come forth from the inky pool of my mind!


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