Believing that art is a purely contemplative form of expression is everything that Jase King stands against. Raised at the crossroads of western and far eastern cultures, the artist is constantly pushing the boundaries of what is deemed acceptable to highlight important societal issues.
Long before “experimentalism” became a trendy term, Jase travelled throughout the world to satiate his unending thirst for curiosity. From spending a night in a Masai tribe to travelling through war torn Syria, the unusual paths he has taken were always motivated by one component: people. Art is not just about capturing a moment in time; it is about transcending the stillness of the present to engrave individual’s stories in the common unconscious.
King’s body of work is an exchange of energy and freedom of expression through the amalgamation of experiences he’s had in his life. As a multi-disciplinary artist, he ﬂuidly switches from photography to painting, from video installation to sculpture. Linking all these techniques together is his training in performance arts. Simultaneously fun-ﬁlled and dramatic, his creations are ever so oxymoronically theatrical.
The idea of paradox is a constant guiding principle in Jase’s creative process. The juxtaposition of seemingly disconnected elements like in the series “Stoned Cold Hearts”, is a celebration of the grotesque highlighting the ying and yang of materialism vs humanism. Jase’s most recent artistic project focuses on the creation of masks. The context of their development, the conﬁnement due to the Covid-19 pandemic, provides a framework for deep introspection. Each mask is a character linked with one of the artist’s facets. The “Agent Saboteur” mask relates most particularly to Jase’s inner voice in constant struggle with his most demanding critic: the artist himself.
Step through to meet all the varied characters. Perhaps you will ﬁnd within, nuanced messages in his creations that speaks, touches or yells into your being. The toll to enter his universe is just the use of your imagination:
Welcome to RED•EYE Metazine. Walk us a little bit through your background and when was your ﬁrst approach with art?
My ﬁrst brush with Art was in another form, the Performing Arts. Being trained in a Performing Arts college was my gateway into learning about the power of storytelling and the distinct ways to conceptualize a universe while taking everyone on a journey using an assortment of tools at my disposal such as words and visuals. Another aspect was learning character studies when we broke down a scene. What made a person the way they are, are there underlying nuances beneath the surface? How does the character move and notably why does the person wear what they do to convey who they are? I think about what character each of my masks are and how to deliver it through the design and movement. What am I conveying with each art work and am I placing messages forthrightly or are they hidden in the creation? Part of my process involves photographing and ﬁlming through different stages of construction as one would when you ﬁt a garment on clothes and in likeness to a director putting a performance piece together.
Do you remember your ﬁrst art piece? When did this happen and how old were you? What about your ﬁrst mask?
If you are referring to decorative arts it would be 7 years old in pottery class in primary school In Melbourne. I made a Stegosaurus that emerged from a broken egg. Looking back, the theme of creatures and transformation as a through line seems to be already evident as a child. I remember my ﬁrst mask well, it was made entirely out of cooked spaghetti which I glued to my face using liquid latex. I ﬁrst googled if it had even been done or documented. When I realized I was going to be a pioneer for this concept, it excited and catapulted me to bring it to fruition.
How important is your educational background and how this affected your career path in a positive way?
For me, the knowledge I attained through my education enhanced the development of my work in immeasurable ways. The most important lesson it taught me is discipline. I also understand that not every individual is afforded an education and for those I will encourage you to let your voice be heard if you are truly passionate about it. One can also learn through experience. There are many paths one can take to attain your goals as long as you have a unique point of view, discipline and an unwavering desire to keep creating.
Lately, you are so involved in digital art as well as you have a few pieces as NFT. Tell us more about it and how do you see the future of digital art?
There is a prosperous future in digital art in reference to NFT’s. Not only do I embrace it, there are beneﬁts to be had from an artist perspective as well as a collectors. On my side, the block chain technology enables me to safeguard Intellectual property and introduce it to a wider audience. For a collector who can’t necessarily have access to my one of a kind pieces, can also own a piece of my work through purchasing limited edition NFT’s.
What are the visual references and inspiration for your work?
As I have Eidetic memory, my references are from an assortment of memories that I have accumulated through my vast experiences in travel. I stopped counting how many places I have been to when I visited over 150 cities from exploring the oldest city in the world, Damascus, getting altitude sickness near the Himalayas in Tibet, to chasing the Aurora Borealis in the Arctic circle. I make a conscientious endeavor to fuse two or three references to imbue into one art piece. What that pertains in most part comes from a Rolodex of memories, literature and a species of creature that is birthed from imagination.
How would you describe the independent art scene? What are some of the biggest challenges that you are facing right now?
I would say while the independent art scene sits on the fringe of the Art industry, it is vital that it exists. I have noticed more and more independent art spaces pop up to accommodate this demand. Galleries and museums might only feature only well known artists. These independent art spaces allow unknown or up and coming artists to showcase their work.
One of the challenges that I face is gaining trust in two industries which are very much deﬁned and governed by their own set of rules in their core. I refer to the intersection and cusp where art and fashion merge with its ability to cross over one another. As the business models for both are vastly different, I ﬁnd myself in professional endeavors where I have to break rules and create my own path.
Searching for a mentor who has walked the same path with this crossover experience is niche. I am still searching for a manager to work with that can maneuver both stratospheres with strong cohesion to one another.
How do you approach the process of creating a sculpture or a mask?
I touched a little bit on that in an earlier question, but it stems from building a universe where all my creatures or “tres bizarre” masks inhabit. Each mask has a backstory and some pieces evolve with each life experience it experiences. For example, Neon Ninja 2.0 mask came from an editorial beauty shoot using silicon ﬁsh bait and faux leather face pieces. It morphed into a mask where it grew neon tassels and gold barnacles on the beadwork. It is important to me that my masks live and transform over time as would any creature alive. The ﬁrst iteration of the mask, when created, can transform according to when it is being used in a photoshoot , a fashion runway, a dance number or exhibited in a gallery. When a collector purchases a mask of mine that is not privately commissioned, they are aware of the history of each piece, the journey it has taken and its ﬁnal evolution until it belongs to them.
Can you describe your style as an artist creating wearable sculptures?
I will let the collectors and the public describe my style. Some of the common descriptions are bizarre , detailed, unique, other worldly, beautiful and weird.
What is your favorite place where you feel more inspired?
Currently my favorite place is the Metaverse. In choosing pieces to be exhibited during Art Miami week , a QR code was created for each piece where an augmented reality version of each piece can be generated on any background. This was created from using 500-600 photographs I took of each mask so the details are not lost in the virtual world. This technology allows people to not only see how the masks would look in the space where they want to place it in their home, but also allows others who can’t own the one of a kind item to have an NFT.
What makes you stand out as an artist and tell us your favorite project that you’ve worked on?
The work should speak for itself but if I were to acknowledge one point, perhaps as a multi hyphenate, it would be using experienced interdisciplinary skills in performing arts and creative direction that I interjected into my art. My favorite project that I’ve had the honor to work on was with the United Nations. Namely the ofﬁce of migration for the west Balkans ( IOM BIH ). My masks have been worn by refugees with garments made by refugees. Together our collaboration has walked the runways for New York fashion week and opened a women’s empowerment festival in Tuzla Bosnia. Our latest project together was on 15th December last year. In celebration of world migrants day a fashion show in the Bosnian City of Banja Luka was held by No Nation Fashion, a fashion brand that is by refugees and migrants from Bosnia powered by IOM BIH.
A letter to your future self. What would you write?
I believe it would be a long and detailed letter pertaining to many questions as I am on a constant journey of self discovery and spirituality. In the heart of it all, the most pertinent ones would probably be, did you use your talent enough in the world in service of others? Did you change mindsets and inspire others to live to their highest potential, by being their most authentic selves?