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Graphic evidence of change towards work of comic artists

Kiss of Light from a New Dawn, by Aidan Koch Naughton Gallery, Queen’s University, Belfast Until June 3

By Elizabeth Baird

Last week I commented on how little concepts and questioning within art had changed, but that availability of new technologies was moving on and with it the presentation styles and techniques available to today's artists.

This week I want to look at the acceptance of the comic artist into the mainstream of fine art.

It has taken the UK a long time to accept the comic (book) is a lot more than the Dandy or Beano, although they and many others show a high standard of art indeed.

The graphic novel has had a slow underground growth here, although many of the genre's best known artists are from Northern Ireland.

Aidan Koch is a multimedia artist working in New York City. She has released graphic novels including Xeric Award winner The Blonde Woman and Impressions as well as being printed in The Paris Review.

Her sculpture and installation work has been exhibited in Antwerp, Paris, Austin and New York.

Koch works in narrative drawing. Her elliptical comics challenge the reader to fill in the blanks of both image and storyline.

None of her characters has a name and she often whites out or removes elements to keep interpretation open-ended. Her work is quite simply beautiful. It has an ephemeral quality and a strangely animated feel. You often feel that the piece you are looking at is moving from frame to frame before your very eyes. As an animator you might expect this, but these works have something extra, a gentleness, a dreamlike presence in places. Koch's colour palette is delicate and subtle, yet not without strength.

This is a delightful show, worth visiting not just for the works on show, but to see the boundaries between fine art and the 'trade' being broken. Yet again, illustration has dared to challenge, with a force that will not be stopped.

Belfast Telegraph

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