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YUH-SHIOH WONG / ALEX CHAVES 

Opening Saturday, September 12, 7-10pm


YUH-SHIOH WONG

In Reality

September 12 - October 10
Opening Saturday, September 12
7-10 PM


 
Night Gallery is pleased to present its first exhibition “In Reality” with LA based artist Yuh-Shioh Wong. Through her intrinsic understanding of the natural world, Wong’s paintings communicate the inherent structure of things- through shape, color, and line- and how they connect to one another and to human experience. 
 
The non-ordinary reality reflected in Wong’s paintings show different environments inhabited by a range of animal spirits.  We see cats and llamas, trees and swans, rainbows and even a man in the moon.  These forms, which are highly personal to the artist yet open to the viewer’s interpretation, appear to be very much in flux, vacillating between legible representation and amorphous colors and shapes.  Using acrylic and aqua-oil on canvas, Wong gives a material reality to her shamanistic visions, traversing a natural world that is both seen and unseen.  The spirits in Wong’s work thread back, not only to Chinese ink wash painting, but also to early cave painting and to the stylized depictions of nature by the ancient Egyptians.  The fluid strokes in Wong’s paintings on raw canvas or linen, are reminiscent of stains by Morris Lewis yet the history Wong aligns herself with is much more expansive than that of modern Western painting.

“I am interested in embodying the spirit realm through the paintings, treating the canvas itself as the skin and flesh of the beings, with their light seeping through."
 
Wong captures the ephemeral in lines and colors that appear bright and effortless yet reflect a mastery of control.  In her indelible marks, we see a vision that is as temporal as the flap of a butterfly wing and as expansive as the powers of the shaman.
 

Yuh-Shioh Wong (b. 1977 Taipei, Taiwan) obtained a BA in Visual and Environmental Studies from Harvard University, an MFA in Painting from Hunter College in NYC, and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2003. She was an Artist in Resident at The Chinati Foundation in Marfa, TX in 2013, and is represented in San Francisco, CA by Anthony Meier Fine Arts. She has exhibited widely across the US and lives and works in Los Angeles.


Image above: Yuh-Shioh Wong, They told me to go to the desert, 64 x 54 inches, acrylic and aqua-oil on canvas, 2015.
 

ALEX CHAVES

The Amerikan Green Cross

September 12-October 10
Opening Saturday, September 12
7-10 PM

 
Dear Alex,

I don’t want to give away too much, since this private letter might be a public announcement, but do you remember what you said on the beach in Coney Island, eating hot dogs with those brats? It was something like, “But I have to prove to myself that I’m an artist.” 

Some people wear their hearts on their sleeves; others paint their hearts on their canvases. You put paint on the canvas with rigor, affection, and confidence. I also see generosity, and a touch of anger. But your heart? I wonder if it’s in New Jersey, or inside your tummy, or scattered around in sacred, banal places, buried like treasure. 

I’m not exactly sure who makes your paintings, when the door to your hovel closes. It would be easy to say that it’s the girl inside you, but you paint those beautiful, splayed men like only a lonely boy could. All those colors—they’re so delightful. Sometimes I feel like you’re pretending to be normal. Like you’re setting the table for a dinner party you’re not sure you want to host, but feel obligated to. Maybe you really are a woman (divorced, with kids) who only feels like herself when she paints flowers under the sun. 

Having an identity can start to feel like a litany—this, that, and the other thing. Not to mention, other people decide who we are for us. Power traces our bodies’ contours with its all-seeing eyes. Even rebelling is claustrophobic. So I get why you paint: it’s an altogether different language, with its own signifiers (color, mark, stroke, wash). It’s another dimension. It’s expansive and safe.  

But some of the people you’re painting: am I supposed to believe that they are young, white, gay, and whole? And the men—have you ever met one who is “virtuous, simple, clean, light, and kind,” as you say in Abigail Adams? You’re either dreaming of that virtuosity, or that dream has disappointed you. 

So what the hell are you dreaming about? The cure for AIDS? A merger between the Green Party and the Red Cross? A time before AIDS? Before the bees overdosed on maraschino run-off and died? Before marriage and your cousin’s expectation that you would find love? It seems like you want to let your audience be happy. But even in 1969 we would have been unhappy. It still would not have been our fault. 

I mean, come on, Alex. Look at the world. It’s so twisted. Last night on the subway I saw a person with no hair whatsoever riding back and forth on a pink tricycle, wearing a tutu that looked like it was made out of your leftover canvases. Like, it literally looked as if they’d ripped up Mon Cheri  and made it into a leotard with pleats. The person was holding a sign that said, “I’m deaf: please donate,” and howling at a pink teddy bear they were cradling like a dead baby. 

I wish that when your audience saw purple they had to think about that unbelievably anorexic old woman walking down sunset boulevard (wearing a purple sequin gown and pushing a shopping cart), or that vain trans icon in West Hollywood who won’t take visitors but accepts purple gifts left on her doorstep. I wish your audience knew that all the flowers in your house growing up were plastic. I wish all this not because I want them to be sad, but because I want them to know that joy is not separate from the weight of this world. You know that. 

I love your paintings, but I don’t always believe you. Alex, I like your paintings because I don’t always believe you.

Love,
Grace

Grace Dunham, New York, 2015


***
 
The Amerikan Green Cross will include the release of Abigail Adams, a book of poetry by Alex Chaves published by Penny-Ante Editions in an edition of 350. The book will be on sale at Night Gallery during the opening on Saturday, September 12. 
 

Alex Chaves (b. 1989, Summit, New Jersey) has exhibited previously in Los Angeles at Human Resources, Artist Curated Projects, and Roberts & Tilton.  A book of his writing, titled Abigail Adams, will be published in September 2015 by Penny-Ante Editions. He received his B.A. from Wesleyan University in 2012, and currently lives and works in Los Angeles. 

Image above: Alex Chaves, Green Cross, 16 x 16 inches, oil on canvas, 2015.

 
** THIS WEEKEND **
 
 

NIGHT GALLERY
Presents

 
JPW3, SEAN TOWNLEY, DAVID KORTY,
MARISA TAKAL, CAMERON CRONE, JAKE KEAN-MAYMAN,
& SOJOURNER TRUTH PARSONS
 
 
 

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