Duration_ May 6–June 10, 2023
Opening_ Saturday, May 6, 3–6 PM
Opening_ Saturday, May 6, 3–6 PM
Gallery Vacancy is pleased to announce Shi Jiayun's second solo exhibition with the gallery, Wanderlust, on view from May 6 to June 10, 2023. This exhibition showcases the artist’s recent painting series. Through meticulous observations of mundane and fictional scenes and settings, Shi interweaves female images sourced from the internet and the quotidian with abstract geometric elements, creating dialogues between different works through inner visual connections.
The observations and recollections of daily experiences become the best starting point for the artist to converge and intertwine vision and perception. The silhouettes of trees, dappled walls, tangled wires, fences on the lawn, bent planks, and accidental traces of paint on the studio walls are often the subjects Shi delineates as the prototype in her paintings. Through the investigation of minutiae, she translates and distills the appearance of things from the physical world into their purely visual forms, successively constructing a more expansive manifestation in consciousness and perception. In the process of working on the two-dimensional surface, the artist tends to follow the logic of painting itself, while dismantling the existing and defined contexts on the carrier of material experience, ultimately pushing the imagery towards an unpredictable landscape of detachment and intimacy through mutable components in the primary state of linguistic symbols.
In Wood Grain #7 (2022), the green-toned wood grain and black flat color blocks, as well as the delicate treatment of highlights reveal Shi’s attentive depiction of edges and courageous attempt to reconstruct and breakthrough the rims of dimensions; this allows the integration of time and space, raising the possibility of new relationships and structures that goes beyond reality: For the negative spaces and color patches, which is above and which is below? Are the overlapping textures interpenetrating the smooth surface? Many thought-provoking questions arise from the artist’s engagement with the image. Shi further searches for imagery on the internet that speaks to Wood Grain #7 in her mind; therefore, introduces Pondering #4 (2023) to be placed in conjunction. In her view, the female figure’s curly hair on her temple forges a complementary visual connection with the spiral forms central to the previous work’s composition. Coincidentally, the artist’s fuzzy approach to the wooden edges is actually derived from the texture and symbol of hair, which happens to be one of the early inspirations from her abstract painting making.
The intriguing interconnectedness pervasive throughout Wanderlust brings to mind Ferdinand de Saussure's comparison of language to a river, in which numerous changes happen continuously yet the basic principles remain intact. Ludwig Wittgenstein similarly illustrates the blurry boundaries with a similar metaphor, stating “I distinguish between the movement of the waters on the river-bed and the shift of the bed itself; though there is not a sharp division of the one from the other.” Within the symbolic language system created by Shi, exists similar internal connections. While the artist’s perceptual condensation in her creative process and viewers’ sensory experience are “seen” through the artworks, what the works are “seen as” relies on their interpretive framework and contexts.
The exhibition title, Wanderlust, employs the phonetic similarity between two Chinese characters to echo the close relationship among the works on a semantic level, and to gather various conscious and physical states of wandering. Shi does not seal her creation on the painted surface, instead, treating her abstraction as an entrance to actively trace images from the internet that could connect with abstract works and represent them on canvas, providing a clear and reflective path throughout the exhibition. As Paul Levinson says, a medium should not only replicate reality, but also recombine reality in imaginative ways in order to transform imaging into art. The works exhibited in Wanderlust achieve an irreversible journey of diffusing. Even though the artist's subjective experience can’t be fully replicated, the visual fragments that slip between the gaps of individual consciousness and memory have started to establish a cognitive and perceptive consensus and thereby triggering a series association, imagination, and even recollection among viewers.
Text by Fiona He