September 7, 2009

What We Don't Talk Of When We Talk About Ourselves

17 September 2009
ABA Art Contemporani

What We Don't Talk Of When We Talk About Ourselves:
Drawings, Paintings and Personal Mythologies by Yenting Chung and Michelle Yu

What We Don't Talk Of When We Talk About Ourselves is a joint exhibition between Yenting Chung and Michelle Yu.  Through a menagerie of animals and chimerical half-animals, and surreal narratives, their work alludes to intuitive, and sometimes elusive personal mythologies.  These tales revolve around the juxtaposition of humanity and animality within the self, and create rich, evolving metaphors for the external and internal worlds the two artists navigate.

Though they are from different backgrounds--Chung is Taiwanese-born and Yu is American-born with Korean parents--their drawings, paintings and small sculptures demonstrate a shared practice of culling visual information and aesthetics from East Asian traditions and a growing shared global pop culture.

Chung's unique calligraphic paintings reveal her perspectives on urban life.  She cites her parents, who made Buddhist statues and traditional Chinese brush paintings through her childhood as major influences, and in turn, her works are soft, clean and poetic, created with black ink and simple colors.  Chung creates a pared-down, primitive world, one that exists as though at the beginning of time, and she imbues the creatures that populate it with a sense of quiet alienation.  Many of her works feature a lone figure in a tranquil landscape, showing a frame of mind that is simultaneously isolated and hopeful.

Yu's work is on the surface, visually excitable--coy tableaux saturated with color and drama, stylistically influenced by contemporary Korean and Japanese illustration and animation, and in a kind of twist, Eastern-influenced American animation.  Upon closer inspection, the narratives reveal an underlying darkness verging on violence, clearly citing her interest in Western cautionary tales.  Her heroines though, reflect a complex psychology that extends beyond the role of the victim--the girls are physically vulnerable, damaged, but nevertheless defiant.

Chung was born in 1982 in Taipei, Taiwan. After receiving her BFA degree from National Taiwan University of Arts (2007) she enrolled at the MFA Fine Arts program at Parsons The New School for Design in New York, NY, USA.  She recently showed work in PULSE Art Fair (New York, NY) and GEISAI Miami, hosted by Kaikai Kiki, Inc., Takashi Murakami and PULSE Contemporary Art Fair (Miami, FL).

Yu was born in 1986 in Geneva, NY.  She has a BA in Liberal Arts from Sarah Lawrence College, and is expected to receive her MFA from Parsons The New School for Design, New York, NY, in 2010.  She has shown work in Birdsong #7 at HiChristina in Brooklyn, NY (2009), PULSE Art Fair (New York, NY) and in student-run group exhibitions Green Light Go at Gallery 151, New York, NY (2009) and The Armory Show Presents: Reflections / Refractions (2009), at the Parsons Fine Art space in New York, NY.

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