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Review: Kristal Melson and Charlene Chua

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An illustration by Charlene Chua.
  • An illustration by Charlene Chua.

Consider the plight of the professional illustrator. When you spend your days churning out eye candy to promote the work of others, such as writers or musicians, how do you define your own creative identity?

Singapore-born, Canadian illustrator Charlene Chua says she’s a “problem solver” who puts her clients’ aesthetic needs before her own. Chua’s voluptuous Betty Page-like sirens, done for Maxim Singapore in beguiling reds and grays, contrast sharply with her CLEO Singapore horoscope girls — wispy, willowy figures in a loosely delineated, greeting-card world. By contrast, the guys and gals of her Wall Street Journal fashion pieces are sleek and sensible.

Kristal Melson, also Singapore-born (and based), is likewise not stuck on one style. Although her sketches of skinny fashionistas for ELLE Singapore are fairly tame, much of Melson’s work walks where the wild things are: melting pink elephants, bizarre female figure studies, an alien playground, a handgun dripping yellow ooze. Sometimes she channels the psychedelic sixties.

So, maybe illustrators are like character actors. While they may not become stars, their versatility guarantees they’ll never go hungry. Through March 16 at the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center Gallery at University of Indianapolis.

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