World of One: Angry Calm – the Art of Cool

White suited Asian guy sitting on some steps in the shade looking cool, surrounded by angry looking dark suited asian guys with red shoes.
Angry Calm
2016
Giclée
Image size (HxW): 24″ x 47 9/16” inches | Paper Size (HxW): 30″ x 53 9/16” | Edition of 5

 

What is the essence of cool?

I’ve spent years of my life (some would say wasted), trying find the answer to this question. The art of cool of me however, has always eluded me.

Growing up in the 90s, I thought parachute pants were cool (something my high school friends will never let me forget).

I also spent the entirety of my 20s trying to “keep it real” maintaining a lifestyle befitting for a bohemian artist. I can tell you now, while these these seemed like a good idea at the time, they are less appealing to me now.

Then again, some people are just enduringly cool. Like James Dean, or Batman!

I’ve always wanted to know, what is it about these guys that makes them cool? And how can I incorporate some of that cool into my art (not to mention my life)?

Is Casual Cool? Not Quite

Cool characters always seem to be doing casual things at the worst possible times. Think James Bond adjusting his cufflinks while chasing the down bad guys. Or Spike Spiegel lighting up a cigarette as he’s about to crash land to earth.

These actions alone are not cool. Spike smoking in a bar is the same as anyone else smoking in a bar. Similarly James Bond, fixing his shirt in the bathroom is just a guy getting dressed.

Rather, it is the context in which these actions are expressed that makes them cool.  Because these actions show someone who is calm under pressure, which is the very definition of what cool is.

Calm Under Pressure

Staying calm under pressure is exactly what Angry Calm is all about. Which is why I’ve surrounded the laid back white suit, with angry dark suits. This not only provides contrast, but also creates an atmosphere of tension.

I chose to stay with a Yin-Yang inspired composition, placing the white suit in the shade, while having a single darks suit in the light. Because the Yin-Yang is so classically and stereotypically Asian. Also, Yin-Yangs are just perfect for illustrating paradoxical relationships.

Thanks for reading! If you agree or disagree with my assessment, please leave me a comment in the section below!!

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Also, a very special thanks to my friend Alison Xie for assisting me on this shoot!!!

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Asian women sitting on steps in brooklyn bridge park

My assistant Alison standing in for a focal point.

 

Asian guy sitting on steps in a white jacket

Outtake for the calm white character.

 

Asian guy angrily looking at an empty rope circle on some steps with a white x in the middle of it.

Outtake for the angry dark suit character.

 

Asian guy angrily looking at an empty rope circle on some steps with a white x in the middle of it.

Outtake for the angry dark suit character.

 

Asian guy angrily looking at an empty rope circle on some steps with a white x in the middle of it.

Outtake for the angry dark suit character.

 

Asian guy angrily looking at an empty rope circle on some steps with a white x in the middle of it.

Outtake for the angry dark suit character.

 

Asian guy angrily looking at an empty rope circle on some steps with a white x in the middle of it.

Outtake for the angry dark suit character.

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