Review: Synergy – A new art magazine by Jack Martyn Richardson and Paulina Korobkiewicz.

As the card handout states: Synergy is the interaction or cooperation of two or more organisations, substances or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects. Heavily focused on collaboration and intersectionality in art, this Zine is a great collection of various pieces primarily connected by their look at lines and colour.

I first encountered the work of both Jack Richardson and Pauline Korobkiewicz in July 2020, when I heard Richardson’s debut album made under the alias Manonmars. Korobkiewicz’ cover for the album – a tone-setting photograph fuelled by super intense colour contrast (that makes a presumably styrofoam cup turn eye-blisteringly bright in the midst of a darkened room) and the great mix of candid and posed portrait photography. At this time, on a personal level, I was approaching the end of writing my first poetry collection during lockdown – a collection inspired by the grim hip-hop I’d become a huge fan of a few years earlier (specifically Earl Sweatshirt’s I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside) – and the discovery of Manonmars’ self titled record was the artistic cherry on top that led me towards finding my own feet and finalising the ideas I’d been toying with.

There was just something special to the unique delivery, borderline talking, in a relaxed tone of introspective, poetic lyrics and the sparse instrumentals by producer O$VMV$M (who will come back into this conversation later on) that reached further than most current hip-hop albums do (it’s difficult to even define this record as hip-hop, it defies the categorisation). As I said, this was my introduction to the work of Manonmars, and this was followed by me following his Instagram account and getting word of an upcoming second record.

Again, the cover photograph was by Korobkiewicz, who also made the music video for 4smoke (along with J. Remy, whose full name I haven’t been able to find) – the artistic meeting of these two was clear and consistent, even though they worked in two striking different areas (visual photography and, at this time, rap music). At the start of this year, Richardson started sharing art that he had been working on for the last few years. The first of these was Prototype, a stunningly intricate and intensely colourful piece that used numerical patterns as its basis for direction. It’s gorgeous. After some similar pieces were shared shortly after, dating back as early as 2015’s Untitled, an announcement was made in mid-October announcing a new project between Korobkiewicz and Richardson.

Geometric Abstract Art | Jack Martyn Richardson Painter | London, UK
Richardson’s Prototype, mentioned above.

Of course, this project was revealed to be the magazine I’ll be talking about today – the wonderful Synergy. Announced by a video on YouTube (which is also accessible by scanning a code on the cardboard handout that comes with the Zine, and will be linked at the end of this piece), which was a brilliant way to set up the ideas surrounding art that the Zine would be focused on, my personal anticipation built very quickly.

The video, playfully edited with layered footage, split-screens and accompanied by a gentle instrumental by the previously mentioned producer O$VMV$M (yes, I do have to check that spelling every time I type it) works as a kind of visual manifesto for what is to come, highlighting the work that goes into this art and more so the collaborative nature behind it which many seem to overlook. As the video’s description states, ‘Synergy explores how two creative approaches allow each other to exist in unison’, functioning as a mission statement which is personified by the sticker that comes with the Zine and the logo which appears throughout of a camera and a can of spray paint – the two alone are one thing, but together they are an entirely new mode of artistic expression.

Featuring two stunning posters (my preference being for the one featuring a polaroid of, presumably, Richardson’s hand wielding spray paint over a finished work), two stickers, the aforementioned card handout with a link to the video printed and a gorgeous printed picture of plants layered over intense pinks, purples, oranges and yellows, this Zine is an amazing introduction to the work of these two artists, boasting their unique visions, their intense skill and their great eye for use of colour especially. The choice of two different covers is a great bonus, one brighter and one darker, again bringing the focus to the impact of colour choice on the work included here as the tone of the cover is altered completely by the choice made by each customer.

Generously signed by both artists and numbered within 100 copies, the print quality is very high and there is a great meeting point of consistency and fluidity within the art featured – it is clearly created by the same minds, but it never feels samey or repetitive thanks to consistent innovation and, again, that very wide use of a huge range of colours that also serve to give the Zine a modern edge that sets it apart.

At 44 pages, each piece is richly textured, carefully covered in lines and patterns that hold them together from the chaos occasionally seen in other pieces that focus more on curves and sporadic lines of overlapping colours. The photographs linked with the pieces are all gorgeous too, often tinted in colour to give them a certain edge and often focused on the behind-the-scenes, capturing Richardson’s pieces in dimly lit rooms after their completion, capturing an odd feeling of emptiness that comes from the art being seen finished and without the artist. Cumulatively, the Zine and its many extras serve as a great introduction to the work of these two artists, highlighting their love for collaboration in a way that aligns neatly with my own interests in art of finding new ways to present unique voices. It is extremely high quality, so evidently made with love, and it opens the floor to hopefully much more work from the same duo.

Synergy is still available at Korobkiewicz’s website, linked here – https://www.paulinakorobkiewicz.com/

Visit Richardson’s website here – https://www.jackmartynrichardson.com/

And finally, see the trailer for the Zine on YouTube, here

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