Jersey City, New Jersey, June 28, 2023 – Jonathan LeVine Projects proudly presents Post Colonial Rainbow Punks, a series of new sculptures by Vietnam based artist Kumkum Fernando. This body of work merges the ancient and the futuristic, the traditional and the fantastical to create one of a kind works from found objects scoured from the streets of Saigon.
Post Colonial Rainbow Punks depict Fernando’s ongoing exploration of the nexus between East Asian history and modern culture; Hindu mythology and folktales, as well as Vietnam’s cultural reclamation, informs his art. Fernando uses the detritus and remnants of French era architecture to methodically recontextualize the past. Doors, shutters, window frames and other wooden treasures, some over 100 years old, are used as the building blocks of his sculptures. He proudly derives inspiration from this heritage, bridging fine art with a deep appreciation for traditional forms to create contemporary art objects.
The Punks are intergalactic swashbucklers – part gangsters, part mythical beings – who have traveled through space and time to find their missing Princess Izzah 281. The four Punks, Softboss, Koha, Lomba, and Manike the Maniac, have arrived on earth ready to meet their greatest challenge. Characterized by their roughhewn texture, rainbow hues, and squat and stout stature, each Punk is uniquely handmade from 100% reclaimed wood.
Fernando and his team at Studio Reborn spent months rummaging the streets of Saigon to accumulate materials for this collection. These sources were given new life as the building blocks for each sculpture. The reclaimed wood has a unique character, pocked and pitted with age. Scratches, dents, and other imperfections are left intact to reveal their natural charm and beauty. The wood was then fashioned into blocks, cutting with exacting precision, and assembled to create the figure. This is a time-consuming process. Each block has six sides, and the thinly sliced wood needs to be attached to a piece of block to have colors appear on each side.
Layers of paint remain from decades of decoration and speak to the Vietnamese tradition of coating doors to celebrate milestone events such as the birth of a child or a marriage. Fernando adds pigments to enhance the hue, then seals the blocks, producing and protecting a rainbow of color.
Finally, each sculptural form includes aged brass which is chemically treated at Studio Reborn in Saigon. The brass is then coated to preserve the patina. These brass elements form the unique features of each character. Eyes, antennae, mouths and arms are embellished with metal.
Kumkum Fernando was born in Sri Lanka, the son of an antiques and curiosities collector. As far back as he can remember, Kumkum has been a collector as well: of stones, spoons, statues, ostrich eggs, and other ancient marvels and treasures. Thousands of years of Sri Lankan culture inform Kumkum’s art, from ornate temple paintings to folktales of portals that connect us to a vast underworld of gods, giants and demons. He proudly derives inspiration from this heritage, bridging fine art and design with a deep appreciation for ancient and traditional forms. Kumkum’s creations have been featured at the Singapore Art Museum, Ho Chi Minh City Museum of Fine Arts and the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. His work has appeared in numerous publications including HYPEBEAST and designboom.
Jonathan Levine Projects is committed to new and cutting-edge art. Its roots date back to 1995 when LeVine’s life-long participation in punk and underground music grew into a curatorial experiment with the visual culture that surrounded him. In 2005, he opened Jonathan LeVine Gallery in the Chelsea district of New York City and had great success nurturing the careers of many celebrated artists. In 2017, the gallery relocated to Jersey City with a newfound focus on community and collaboration. The renamed Jonathan LeVine Projects aims to create engaging programs and interesting partnerships beyond the traditional gallery space. With an eye towards honoring and connecting with the history and context of Post War art, Jonathan LeVine Projects explores the terrain of the high, the low and everything in between. In 2019, Jonathan LeVine Projects transitioned from a brick-and-mortar gallery to a virtual exhibition platform, spearheading a digital marketplace for fine art.