A shrine is a place where people come to worship because it is connected with a religious/non-religious person or event. It often contains idols, relics, or objects associated with the figure being venerated. In contemporary practice, when the physical form of shrine shifts, it becomes an idealistic sanctuary to hold their domestic world. At the same time, how people look at the shrine is similar to how these artists look at their works – cautiously, quietly, and sensibly – through an inward lens. Similar to the structure of inner development and self-dialogue. As Simone de Beauvoir said, one is not born a woman but becomes one. This exhibition explores the ambiguity of females before, during, and, more importantly, after the complex duration of shaping.
Shrine serves as a warm bed, gentle yet firmly carrying their world. These female artists, with gifted instincts, captured the vulnerable connection of tangible emotions through visual language.
The show features five female artists, followed by Alina Birkner, Gretta Louw, Jialin Ren, Super Future Kid, and Yuchu Gao that deliver the theme with the following questions:
"What formed me?"
"What is our nostalgia? Where is the common ground?"
"I built this domestic world inside my mind; why can the world only take a peek at it?"
"Why do I talk to myself? What is on my mind when I look at myself?"
"Why do I keep coming back into these objects? What is latching me?"
"What is play? Why do we play while we create?"
Born into a traditional Chinese family, Lorraine Ren (Jialin) began traveling around the world since a young age. Home, to her, was thus a temporary concept, referred to as a place that used to be familiar but is no longer possessing any senses of belonging. As a result, the constructed space in her paintings is always ambiguous and complex to understand, inviting us viewers to unfold by ourselves as they never merely depict our reality or what nature would be. Ren also breaks the rules of traditional landscape paintings by leading viewers into a familiar but imagined world, which are further rendered with unique perspectives that make her paintings psychologically unnavigable and confusing. Interpretations are thus open as she gives limited visual clues in raising questions about the authenticity of real-time and space.
Super Future Kid uses her eyes as sponges to soak up everything visually, to express herself as a human. She uses bold and celebrative colors with a specific palette that slightly shifts from time to time. The colors deliver an intense feeling of pleasure, making her paintings come alive. Three works represent the key natural elements: Earth, Air, and Water, that shape the human habitat. The characters in Super Future Kid's works represent the artist herself visually and, more importantly, emotionally. They are standing in a parallel world in an imagined landscape; her belongings in real life can be found at corners of the space, and viewers can only get a glimpse of her personal world by the reflection of these objects.
On the other hand, Gretta Louw develops her works on a transcendental scale with reference to history, biology, and the celestial. Since the beginning of her practice with the digital medium, the fabric has been a sensual material that she feels a longing for. Therefore, Gretta incorporates into her works textile and needlework techniques that she learned during her childhood. She developed new ways of using the digital embroidery machine - similar to learning how to play a musical instrument, subsequently expanding beyond the traditional ways of drawing and painting. Besides, Gretta uses recognizable neural network aesthetics in her works: the sky, marine habitats, and underground mycelium networks, which are inhabited with many hybrid species to point to certain milestones in both our evolutionary history and algorithmic intelligence. And as an individual, Gretta thinks of herself as more of an inhabitant among these planetary techno-organic systems – an earthling.
"Color has been my main focus for a long time. I believe it affects us deeply no matter we are consciously aware of it or not," said Alina Birkner. She uses the canvas to convey the growth forms that are attached to human emotions. The shapes in her works develop through colors first, then manifest gradually on the canvas surface as spirals – reminiscent of vibrations, lights, auras, and deep-portal-like entry points. These meanings can be experienced but not described by words, like a mystery that cannot be solved by logic or reasoning, hugging the viewer and allowing their feelings to guide them through the viewing process.
Intuition runs fearlessly with Yuchu Gao's dreams like a wild horse. She cautiously captures both the tangible and intangible relations of her surroundings: daily objects, history, news, dreams, and even senses. By picking up the elements she sees or feels, then casting a spell on them, fragmented stories gradually come together – stories that manifest one by one in each of her works. No matter how seemingly irrational her visual languages are, all of them embodies the artist’s meticulous observation and reflection of our reality. The viewing process thus provokes curiosity and excitement, inviting us to open this book of hers and indulge in her powerful narratives, similar to opening a book.
The shrine glowing with its gentle and mysterious light, is always distanced yet close to those who come to view/worship. Whether you are curious or firm, come as you are.
Super Future Kid Feet on the Grass Acrylic on canvas 70 x 60 cm 2022
Super Future Kid Head in the Cloud Acrylic on canvas 130 x 165 cm 2022
Super Future Kid Heart on the Pond Acrylic on canvas 180 x 198 cm 2022
Alina Birkner Untitled (Blue Dream) Acrylic on canvas 170 x 120 cm 2022
Alina Birkner Untitled (Waking Heart) Acrylic on canvas 170 x 120 cm 2022
Alina Birkner Untitled (Pink and Red) Acrylic on canvas 80 x 62 cm 2022
Alina Birkner Untitled (Orange and Blue) Acrylic on canvas 80 x 62 cm 2022
Alina Birkner Untitled (Blue and Green) Acrylic on canvas 80 x 62 cm 2022
Gretta Louw I have more in common with Medusa than I'd care to admit Embroidery and pigment on linen 135 x 229 cm 2020
Gretta Louw Memories of species turned to dust Embroidery and pigment on linen 130 x 260 cm 2022
Gretta Louw A web of encounters in motion Embroidery, pigment and oil on linen 80 x 130 cm 2022
Gretta Louw Desperate Times Call For Desperate Pleasures Embroidery, pigment and oil on linen 125 x 85 cm 2022
Gretta Louw Renascence Oil on Beigian linen 55 x 40 cm 2022
Gretta Louw Iridophores Oil on Beigian linen 55 x 40 cm 2022
Gretta Louw Fragrant Mountains of Eternal Now (E. E. Cummings) Embroidery, pigment and oil on linen 125 x 85 cm 2022
Yuchu Gao Summer Dream (Front) Acrylic on towel 143 x 90 cm 2021
Yuchu Gao Summer Dream (Back) Acrylic on towel 143 x 90 cm 2021
Yuchu Gao Woman with Antennae (Front) Acrylic on towel 95 x 95 cm 2021
Yuchu Gao Woman with Antennae (Back) Acrylic on towel 95 x 95 cm 2021
Yuchu Gao Running Boy with Wiggly Eyes Acrylic on canvas 70 x 60 cm 2022
Yuchu Gao Coco's Hair Salon Acrylic on linen 120 x 100 cm 2022
Yuchu Gao A transparency is looking at me Acrylic on linen 120 x 100 cm 2022
Lorraine Ren (Jialin) A Straw in The Wind Oil on canvas 183 x 137 cm 2022
Lorraine Ren (Jialin) Playground Oil on canvas 91 x 76 cm 2021
Lorraine Ren (Jialin) Into the Woods Oil on canvas 152 x 114 cm 2021
Charlotte was born in Shenzhen, China. She currently lives and works in Hong Kong as the Sales and Marketing manager of Tang Contemporary Art in Hong Kong, serving as the bridge to build both gallery's artist and public relationship globally.
Charlotte graduated from the University of New South Wales in Australia with a bachelor's degree in Fine Art. Since then, she has been heavily involved in the art world. In 2017, she participated in the curation role for the National Palace Museum of Taipei at The Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), and 2019 – 2020 in White Rabbit Gallery. In recent years, she is responsible for the leading role in planning and implementation of large scale public projects for Tang Contemporary Art.