Plants and animals work harmoniously together every day to create a beautiful ecosystem. Although the beauty of this relationship often escapes our attention, Los Angeles-based artist Jon Ching brings it to the forefront with his striking, yet beguiling series of oil paintings. Each of these fantastical pieces combines species of flora and fauna in unique hybrids that the artist fondly refers to as “flauna.”
From owls covered in moss and fungi to fish that blend into the coloration of flowers, and seahorses sprouting fresh blossoms and leaves—Ching creates an array of colorful combinations. “The endless wonders of the natural world inspire my artwork; for after one realizes there is magic in every cell of every living organism, one cannot look away,” Ching tells My Modern Met. “To me, not only are the lifeforms magic but so too are the interconnections linking everything together. It’s tempting to describe this intricate balance of millions of organisms as supernatural, but in fact, it is plainly the definition of natural.”
Part of the allure of Ching's conceptual paintings is the masterful way he executes these surreal creatures. Despite being imaginary, they appear to the viewer as realistic and finely detailed. “My process starts with a lot of observation of color, form, patterns, and idiosyncratic qualities that at once make something unique, but also reference something else,” he continues. “These connections, big and small, are reminders that we are all related as living beings on this planet and act as dots for me to connect.”
Additionally, Ching's “flauna” creatures appear to represent the complexity of different environments. “These new creatures play roles of allegory and metaphor in my work, warning of dangers ahead, reminding us of lessons forgotten or purely to show that magic IS real,” the artist explains.