By Jenna Weis
For artist Ai Campbell the most compelling elements in art are the most basic. By eliminating the diversity of color in favor of a more harmonious monochromatic use of black and white, the contours of shapes and the positive and negative spaces are amplified instead of overlooked. This focus on the aesthetic helps Campbell see these images more clearly.
Campbell’s fascination with the alternations of black and white began with drawings by her grandfather, an industrial designer who after being drafted to the war would draw black and white pictures of the different locations he experienced. The clear contrasts of lights and darks and the vivid details inspired Campbell to further explore this style, stating “His drawing initially made me start exploring the monochrome work and then I developed my own practice since then.”
Campbell was trained in oil painting in Kyoto, Japan but also makes ink drawings of fluid shapes and clean lines with precisely fine details that are influenced mostly by nature, or anything that arranges an organic shape is also of interest. The negative spaces created from these drawings are just as interesting for Campbell; it’s the visual aspect, the interaction between positive and negative, the change from dark to light that stands out for the artist. Campbell states “Since I’ve started creating monochrome work, it made me see contours and spare in the shapes very clearly. It’s intriguing to see how both negative and positive space change at the same time as I add object on my canvas. So I barely fill the entire canvas. I also found myself very fascinated by a border that divides the darkest and brightest which is black and white.”
Even her more figurative oil paintings show this attractivness with the organic shape formed by the human body and arranged in a clean balanced composition. The fluidness of her pieces adds to the serene mood as well as creates unique layouts of the images that engage the viewer with the fundamental aspects that have become essential for Campbell. Her work can be seen firsthand at the “Post No Bills” event presented by SPARKBOOM on August 24th from 6-8pm at the Huntington Arts Council.