Bridging Cultures • Xiaojing Yan and Henna Kim
THE ARTS CENTRE • Collingwood • May 2-27, 2012
OPENING RECEPTION AND ARTIST TALK • Tuesday, May 15 from 7 to 9 pm
Curated by Lenore Burton • Presented by C.F. Crozier & Associates, Consulting Engineers
Xiaojing Yan (from 'In the Pond' • paper and reeds • 2012)
Henna Kim 'After the Rain' • encaustic • 2012
These two artists share the recent immigrant experience and their respective backgrounds infuse their work with a cultural perspective that is both fresh and inspired. Henna Kim's colourful, impressionistic paintings and encaustics offer a glimpse into longstanding Eastern artistic traditions while quietly bridging more familiar aesthetic idioms of the West.
Through repetition and rigorous discipline balanced with scale and delicacy, Xiaojing's installations demonstrate the remarkable power originating in much of Chinese contemporary art today.
The work of these two young women, although visually different, share a sensibility that is assured and confident with works that are bold, approachable and evocative.
As an artist migrating from China to North America, both my identity and my work pass through the complex filters of different countries, languages, and cultural expectations. Making art is a transmigration of my ideas, and thus my spirit, move through and with the different layers of my physical experience.
In an effort to shape myself, I take traditional Chinese materials and techniques and reinvent them within a Western aesthetic and presentation. In the series, Flux, I use the reeds and red tissue paper of Chinese lantern making to mould the fragile cocoons of an immigrant life - where staying safe and protected within an unfamiliar, often intimidating cultural environment is essential to emerging and adapting with a reincarnated identity.
In my art, every idea travels through the intricate passageway of how I think in Chinese but speak in English. Choosing the right material for my work is like choosing the right word in my vocabulary. For Guan Yin, the Goddess of Compassion, I applied the red threads used to make tassels for Chinese lanterns to a statue I had cast of her, and then, even though she was touching the floor, I suspended her by a wire to show how, in my adopted culture, I am suspended between what I used to be and what I am becoming.
I use the minimalist concepts and theatricality of my work to expose the intricate layers of my internal world where Chinese culture, training and traditions inspire my work so I can build a bridge of survival, safety and adaptation to the foreign land that moulds and informs my work.
I filter Chinese thoughts through English words, English words through Chinese culture, and my images through the concepts of my art - all the while my core sense of Self remains suspended above and between these two worlds.
My images are an invitation, not only to a visual fiesta, but also to an adventure into the viewer's own soul-spirit. Through the act of painting, my intention is to capture the invisible side of human perception, such as emotion, intuition, memory, and thought, to reveal how our spiritual quality manifests in our day-to-day lives. It is overwhelming and mysterious to visualize the ethereality of the spiritual inspirations.
Painting the sensation of spiritual and emotional climax brings me a self-awareness of my existence as well as a heightened perception of my inner senses. When I look deeply inside myself, I feel the spiritual resonance that is breathing and pulsing throughout me like a silent vibration in a huge vacuum. My whole body becomes a free soul-spirit that floats like a feather. While painting, I trace this endless vibratory movement of the spiritual voyage. At that moment, my spiritual sensation becomes so vivid that I can ultimately encounter with the way, the truth and the life. Sometimes, it feels as if I'm walking through a secret garden in a dewy morning or lying on the surface of the tranquil sea under the warm sunshine.
Likewise, spiritual experience is my main inspiration. My spiritual belief has explored the spiritual side of artistic practice through my life and work. In considering the relationship between contemporary art and spirituality, I have tried to examine that the spirituality could be experienced not only in a numinous place but also in an art gallery. It is like spirituality could be simultaneously the subject and the object of my art, and both the cause and result of my life.
Experimentation with mixed media on Korean paper is a form of relationship with the divine for me. So, the act of creation is an inevitable visualization of meditation in my spiritual journey.
For the current project, I have experimented on traditional Korean paper with mixed media, basically water colours. Since creating the depth of spiritual vibration is the key expression in my artworks, I glued oiled traditional Korean paper and applied transparent resin on waves of colours for the effect of texture and layers. At times, I used sticks, sprays and gloves instead of brushes to create more chaos in a monochromatic field.
As an artist, I wish that I could gain the sympathy of the viewers through my artwork by sharing with the viewers the same experience of spiritual sensation that I had experienced when I was painting them. I have been seriously concentrating on the methodology of representing the inner spirituality in the visual artistic form for the viewers. I believe that my artworks offer the cathartic pleasure and the spiritual consolation to the audiences as well as to me.
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