Areena Ang, Amanda Ba, Dominique Fung, Sasha Gordon, Ara Hao, Michael Ho, Kane Huynh, Min Jia, Catalina Ouyang, Oscar yi Hou, Tommy Xie Xin
January 17—February 10, 2024
Organized by Amanda Ba
Diasporic experience is determined as much by where you end up as where you are from. The local expression of colonial powers inherently shapes the processes by which an artwork is made and received. In response to this tension, the eleven young, queer, and Asian artists in Re: Representation create work nearby—rather than about—the notions of Diaspora and Representation that orbit their work in the discourses of contemporary art history. A term taken from filmmaker and scholar Trinh T. Minh-Ha, nearby respects the opacity of its addressee(s) and reflects critically upon the speaker’s own proximities. For the artists in this exhibition, shared circumstances of urban transplantation, queer sociality, and ancestral migration grant room to facilitate dialogue and interrogate their own geopolitical histories and conceptions of self. By bringing these voices together, this exhibition seeks not to produce a clear universal image of Asian diasporic identity, but rather to obfuscate, expand, and particularize such an image. Working across California, New York, London, and Berlin—Western states and cities that became hotspots for East and Southeast Asian immigration—these artists create work amid sites of global power where differences in curatorial and conceptual approaches can reveal just how affective the sociopolitical climate of a nation—and city—can be.
In their trompe l'oeil Karmatic Cycle, using oil and charcoal on canvas AREENA ANG (b. 1999, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; lives and works in London) enters the sensations of loneliness, affect, precarity, and loss through the process of reconfiguring and recomposing the aesthetics of abandoned ephemera and upholstery in paint. The result is a surrealist image that foregrounds the hybrid surfaces and material interactions that accompany one’s emotional spaces. Ang received a BA in Fine Art from the Slade School of Fine Art at the University College London in 2022. Their work has been included in recent exhibitions at Arcadia Missa, London; 243 Luz, Margate; The Slade School of Fine Art, London; and Baba Gallery, London. Ang’s films have been presented in screenings at the Aesthetica Short Film Festival, York; Girls in Film Festival, London; and Whitechapel Gallery, London.
AMANDA BA (b. 1998, Columbus, OH; lives and works in New York City) is a painter who spent the first five years of her life living with her grandparents in Hefei, China. Diasporic memory is central to her work—vivid paintings combine personal memory with psychosexual fantasy, featuring figures that challenge a predominantly white Western canon of figural painting. Deeply engaged with queer and post-colonial theory, her images do not aim to solely celebrate her cultural identity and its inclusion, but to interrogate its formation. In Rubble we find a near-literal vision of this act—the nude figure foregrounds a backdrop in demolition; a place both potentially preceding and following construction. Ba received a BA in Visual Art and Art History from Columbia University in 2020. She has presented recent solo exhibitions at No Place Gallery, Columbus, OH; PM/AM Gallery, London; and the Lai Shaoqi Art Museum, Hefei. She has staged performances at Anthology Film Archives, New York and The Spectrum, Brooklyn.
In her paintings, DOMINIQUE FUNG (b. 1987, Ottawa, Canada; lives and works in New York) charts her family’s ancestry in Hong Kong and Shanghai, seeking to express the nuanced narratives and histories that comprise personal, generational, and collective memory. With palettes and references intertwined with Asian artifacts, Fung’s uncanny scenes infuse the ancestral with the fantastical. In Cake we encounter horizontal layers stacked and pierced vertically by candles clasped by body-less arms. Filled with shadows and taking place in dim light, this image is like a dream: vividly clear and cryptic, right here and no-where. Fung received a BAA from Sheridan College Institute of Technology in 2009. Recent solo exhibitions include MASSIMODECARLO, London; Rockefeller Center, New York; Nicodim, Los Angeles; Pond Society, Shanghai; Jeffrey Deitch, New York; Taymour Grahne, London; and Ross + Kramer, New York. Fung’s work is in the collections of the Hammer Museum, ICA Miami, LA MOCA, High Museum of Art, M+ Museum, X Museum, and K11 Art Foundation.
SASHA GORDON (b. 1998, Somers, New York; lives and works in New York) creates personal avatars that metamorphose into surreal forms and situations. Gordon’s paintings address notions of selfhood, hybridity, and contradiction using a hyperrealistic style that augments the absurd. Inside this visual universe, themes of identity, sexuality, gender, race, and the human body are depicted with simultaneous hyperbole and depth. Gordon received a BFA in Painting from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2020 and has presented solo exhibitions at Jeffrey Deitch, New York and Matthew Brown, Los Angeles. She has been featured in recent group exhibitions at the Rudolph Tegners Museum, Dronningmølle, Denmark; Jeffrey Deitch, New York and Los Angeles; Indeed Gallery, San Francisco; Public Gallery, London; and Matthew Brown Gallery, Los Angeles. Her work is in the public collections of the Hammer Museum, ICA Miami, LACMA, and MFA Houston.
ARA HAO (b. 1997, Mountain View, CA; lives and works in the Bay Area of Northern California) is concerned with expressions of color, perception, identity, in relation to the solace of being immersed in the natural world. From there, her works synthesize the feelings experienced from engaging with plant life, machine systems, and the passage of time in our material world. Two works engage different facets of these qualities: Red with Green meditates on the vivid folds of nature as it meets in the thrum of opposite colors and changing seasons. Entering the terrain of hue alone, Skin Series presents a study in personal experience by getting so close to parts of the human body as to abstract them—suggesting touch or smell sooner than image. Hao attended the Cooper Union School of Art from 2016-17 and received a BA in Visual Arts from Columbia University in 2020. She held solo exhibitions at LeRoy Neiman Gallery, New York in 2019 and 2020, and has participated in group exhibitions at the Marin Society of Artists, San Rafael; Colnaghi Gallery, New York; and MC Gallery, New York.
As an artist, MICHAEL HO (b. 1991, Arnhem, Netherlands; lives and works in London) is informed simultaneously by his background in architecture, bilingual upbringing, adopted Western aesthetics, and rooted Chinese heritage. As a second-generation immigrant, Ho’s works explore the Chinese diasporic experience as a cultural rediscovery, often imbuing his paintings with the erotic, traces of artifacts, and textures of the natural world. He employs a specific technique of painting from back to front, pushing the paint through the grain of the canvas and superimposing these diluted images with resolved brush strokes on the front of the canvas, as in the shimmering vertical More Than Skin Can Hold. Ho graduated from the Architectural Association in 2019 and has presented solo exhibitions at High Art, Paris; Gallery Vacancy, Shanghai; and V.O Curations, London. He has been featured in group exhibitions at White Cube, Hong Kong; Blum & Poe, Tokyo; Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter; GRIMM, New York; and Hayward Gallery Touring, Nottingham. His work is in the collections of the Asymmetry Art Foundation, London; Domus Collection, New York; Labora Collection, Dallas; Li Lin’s Collection, Hangzhou; Longlati Foundation, Hong Kong; M Art Foundation, Hong Kong; Tanoto Family Collection, Singapore; and X Museum Beijing.
OSCAR YI HOU (b. 1998, Liverpool, England; lives and works in New York) is an artist and writer whose work is anchored in personhood, pulling together a syncretic field of iconography that depicts the complex layers of identity and relation. In two new works, yi Hou forgoes fixed representation to instead take up portraiture as a space that reflects the relationship shared between artist and sitter. Yi Hou received a BA in Visual Arts from Columbia University in 2021 and presented his first solo exhibition at James Fuentes, New York that same year. In 2022 he received the third annual UOVO Prize and presented his solo exhibition East of sun, west of moon at the Brooklyn Museum. His work has been featured in exhibitions at the Royal Academy, London; Asia Society, New York; T293 Gallery, Rome; Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles; and Sprüth Magers Online. His work is in permanent collections of the Brooklyn Museum, New York; Columbus Museum of Art; Grinnell College Museum of Art; ICA Miami; M+ Museum, Hong Kong; and the New York Historical Society.
KANE HUYNH (b. 1998, New Orleans, Louisiana; lives and works in New York) is a painter and fashion stylist whose works interweave her ancestral history and life in the present, often including self portraiture, Vietnamese folklore, and depictions of her experience as a trans woman. Huynh’s work, The Tailor’s Office, references her longing for home and memories of her grandmother’s black Áo dài—the Vietnamese national garment. The painting depicts a scene between two women: a tailor at work and a woman arched like a cat on her desk. Huynh imagines this narrative scene as taking place in 1960s Vietnam during the American-Vietnam war, in secret and at night. She studied a BFA at The Cooper Union in New York and her work is currently on view in her hometown in Pop Gun.
MIN JIA (b. 2001, Ürümqi, China; lives between Berlin and Toronto) is an artist and writer whose work explores themes of migration and adaptation through a surreal lens. Like their short stories, the artist’s paintings offer a glimpse into metamorphic narratives. Chastity Game tangles together hair, scales, and spinal columns into a tightly wound knot bursting at the canvas’ edge. Min Jia is currently on hiatus in China studying the art of traditional Chinese shadow puppet theater under a trained master. They received a BFA in Interdisciplinary Sculpture from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2021 and have been featured in exhibitions at X Museum, Beijing; A.I. Gallery with Linseed Projects, London; Universität der Künste Berlin; MKG127, Toronto; Hunt Gallery, Toronto; Beaver Hall Gallery, Toronto; Student Space Gallery, MICA; and Daesan Gallery, Ewha Womans University, Seoul.
CATALINA OUYANG (b. 1993, Chicago, IL; lives and works in New York) is a multimedia artist whose work presents counter-narratives around representation and self-definition. Through expansion, fragmentation, and abstraction, they portray the body as a politicized landscape that is subject to partition. As in cargo, Ouyang uses diverse materials such as hand-carved wood, beeswax, papier-mâché, stone, appropriated literature, garmentry, animal bladder, and historic artifacts. In this critical reimagining, monstrosity, animality, and toxicity become symbolic elements representing the psycho-affective alienation of the minor subject. Ouyang received their MFA from Yale University in 2019 and has presented solo shows at Lyles & King, New York; Night Gallery, Los Angeles; and No Place Gallery, Columbus. Their work is in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, High Museum, Pérez Art Museum, Cantor Arts Center, Kadist Foundation, Nasher Sculpture Center, Columbus Museum of Art, and Faurschou Foundation. Ouyang is represented by Lyles & King in New York and Night Gallery in Los Angeles.
In his paintings, TOMMY XIE XIN (b. 1998, Chaozhou, China; lives and works in London) navigates queer desire and family dynamics under today’s politics and culture. Xie Xin describes each work as a “fictional presentation based on an emotional reality.” A warning against a longing depicts figures with unclear relations in shadowy tones, exuding both vulnerability and isolation in a doubled interior. This is intimacy as negative space and transgression as catharsis. Xie Xin has had recent exhibitions at Ginny on Frederick, PANG! Projects, Ridley Road Project Space, Harlesden High Street, and Baba Gallery in London, and YouAllDroveMeCrazy Collective in Czech Republic.