Lets take a look at some of Ming’s black and white illustrations and comic strips. That’s where his humor and feather light touch (the side that I have not given due attention in previous posts) find a space to breathe and attest the artist’s funny bone, which may have receded in the larger pieces. These works, minimalistic by generic constraints, savour of all the pungency of the artist’s salt — just like chamber music, where there is more silence to fill, may sharpen and focus more clearly the peculiarities of the composer’s style (which may become obfuscated in symphonies) — the spacious, usually expressing a single idea comics speak for the artist tersely and to the point.
The artist often goes for the classic device of juxtaposing proportions: placing the Gargantuan near the Lilliputian, he is bound to touch the viewer’s comic chord; sympathy and controlled, moderate awe add a harmony that is just short of soothing, keeping the viewer alert and interested. Other comics rediscover the laughable in everyday situations. They treat the ridiculous with such well feigned earnestness as to disorientate and further rouse the curiosity of the reader; constant interplay between the literal and figurative re-echoes in actual and potential visual puns. Progressing from one frame to the next one becomes a challenging and engaging experience.
What appeals to me in particular in this medium is the role of the text — I see it as an old friend making a cameo appearance. Because Ming’s comics contain so much neutral space, the few lines that express the protagonist’s thoughts or the artist’s commentary (and sometime it is difficult to distinguish between the two) have the visual expanse to reverberate and seep into the reader’s mind. Additionally, they provide an inside glance into the artist’s verbal way of thinking, which for some may be the more accessible one. I almost compulsively start guessing what would he say about his paintings, to elucidate or reinterpret the title.
Comics comprise a perfect correlation of a visual form with a literary accompaniment, and I suppose that explains their popularity at least partially. Although, I’ve always considered the signature as more than just a relevant textual reference to the artist’s persona; it reaffirms the artistic intent, and, as an introduced written injection in any visual piece, alludes to literature and “acknowledges” the outside world in general. And Ming’s ubiquitous signature does just that: besides the obvious aim of declaring the art maker, it acts as a reality check, reminding of the existence beyond the thick, black frame — dispatching us there equipped with a big smile.