Creature Creature's morphed paintings of animals parallel human relationships. May 19 2017

Creature Creature’s studio is in a light filled warehouse, near cibi in Collingwood.
There is a large wooden table in the middle of their space with brightly coloured paints ready to be applied to primed wooden canvases. Creature Creature is made up of creative couple
Chanel Tang (NZ) and Ambrose Rehorek (AUS), whose opposite areas of ability makes for a solid artistic duo, “Ambrose loves starting an artwork but finds it hard to complete them. Whereas Chanel finds a blank canvas daunting so prefers the middle to end ages of  creating an artwork.”

They met when studying a Diploma of Graphic design at RMIT, both coming from a background in Fine Arts, they bonded over a mutual love of all things art.. After gaining valuable insights into the graphic design world, their work became a mixture of these influences, combining their love of street art and illustration with strong historical influence. Since then they have exhibited throughout Melbourne and interstate with 4 major solo shows under their belt. Creature Creature play with the idea of duality, east meets west, and the natural world. 

Their upcoming exhibition at Outre Gallery, ‘Binary Star’, is a literal representation of their forces combined, symbolising dualism which is present in many relationships. A binary star is a pair of stars which orbit around a common centre of mass, and remain united by the bond of their own mutual gravitation towards each other. Creature Creature draws comparisons to the structure of a Binary Star to relationships between humans, looking at the way in which the elements remain united through their own mutual gravitation towards each other. Delving into concepts which could enhance such a gravitational effect such as “yin and yang and the philosophy of balance.”

We caught up with Creature Creature in the lead up to their show on May 26th asking them about their studio practice, how their styles have evolved and how they make it work as a creative couple.

Meeting at university, your forces combined and Creature Creature was born. How have your individual styles progressed through working as a duo?

When we first met, we really bonded over a mutual love of art. It was this passion and common ground that has spurred on our relationship. Through this constant dialogue we believe our individual styles have grown, mainly through sharing our inspirations. Since becoming a duo, our own art practice is focused on representing Creature Creature. Our collaboration has really directed subject matter and ideas when are trying to express. Individually we like to experiment a lot to bring something fresh to the table, but our identity as artists is very much so linked to Creature Creature, and we are proud of that.

Were you always compatible style wise, what are the main strengths you both bring to the table when creating an artwork?

Fate has destined us to be highly compatible as artists. There are certain methodical elements that really work, such as Ambrose loves starting an artwork but finds it hard to complete them. Whereas Chanel finds a blank canvas daunting so prefers the middle to end ages of  creating an artwork. Ambrose's strength is in proportion and detailed realism and Chanel designs the compositions and stylised components. Even though we have different roles, we try to make the end product look seamless and whole.

Previously your work explored super powers and heroes/heroines. How will you represent your characters in this new series of work? And what does the dialogue and emotion of the characters mean to you?

We like to use a human face to symbolise some sort of emotion. We have previously had subtle references heroes and the supernatural. Daggers shooting out from the eyes would be a super power we would like to possess! This concept was about accentuating a stare, and portray angst and power. A lot of our new work has new characters: and snake and wolf like creature. The two characters are in a state of agony/ecstasy or a flight or dance. We are using these characters to express this idea of positive and negative forces with intensity and romanticism.

In the past you have worked on wood panels, could you explain your typical technical process of painting and the mediums you mainly use?

We love working on wood, we find it to be a very forgiving surface that we can be rough of delicate with. Chanel's father make the panels for us and we use clear primer to prepare the surface which means we can use most materials on them. Our common technique is ballpoint pen with paint washes on top.

Japanese symbolism and motifs are a large part of your work, can you explain how this came about ?

We are both Japanophiles so are really drawn to Japanese visual and design culture. The appeal comes from a sensibility that is graphic, simplistic and poetic. We try to incorporate these principles in our work and give it our own spin. Some of our forms are a lot more fluid, gestural and baroque which is an influence from western art. Stylistically our work in a mash up and the content unique and personal.

Knife symbols are used a lot - what do knives represent to you?

The knife/dagger/sword motif will continue to be present in our work. It is used to over dramatise the scene and cause intrigue and suspense. In our new work, many of the creatures hold daggers in their mouth or tails, or both. It is unclear whether it is for defence or attack, are they the hero or villain? 

Both of you come from fine art and graphic design backgrounds - how have these studies independently influenced your work ?

We both grew up dreaming of becoming artists, and this was very much part of our identity. When we met studying graphic design we were both a little disillusioned and unsure what to do next with our passion. We connected quickly over this and found what we were looking for in each other. We feel our skills have benefited from studying art and design but have learned much more more being in the real world and working together.

You will be exhibiting at Outre Gallery on May 26 until June 4, could you describe what you will be creating for it ?

BINARY STAR will continue to explore Creature Creature's constant theme of dualism, two elements and the relationship between them. The significance of the number 2 remarks of the collaboration between the two artists. It is explored through the concepts of yin and yang and the philosophy of balance. Opposing forces that are interconnected in the natural world, creating a whole. A binary star is a pair of stars which orbit around a common centre of mass, and remain united by the bond of their own mutual gravitation towards each other. They often appear as a single point of light. 

'BINARY STAR' by Creature Creature
Join us for drinks at the opening of courtesy of Feral Brewing.
6pm to 8pm May 26
Outre Gallery, 249 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne.

Words by Nicola Mitchell.