Current Exhibition

Light, Space and Time

02 May - 21 Jun  |  2024
Chang, Julie WLee Mei-Ling, SummerZhang Jian-Jun
Opening Reception  |  2 May 2024, Thursday, 5-8pm  |  New York Gallery
Introduction
Alisan Fine Arts is pleased to present Light, Space and Time, a group exhibition featuring the work of California-based Asian American visual artists Julie W Chang, Summer Mei-Ling Lee and Zhang Jian-Jun. Influenced by the Californian coast and the Light and Space movement, Chang, Lee and Zhang approach light and space through a different lens and additional dimension. Informed by historical-cultural perspectives, their practices add a “time” element to the works in the exhibition. Light, Space and Time will run from May 2 through June 21, 2024, in Alisan Fine Arts’ newly opened New York gallery at 120 E 65th St, New York, NY 10065. The exhibition opening will take place on May 2, from 5 to 8 p.m. Summer Hours Mon-Fri 10 AM - 6 PM.

The particular light of the California coast has long informed the work of artists living and working on the West coast of the U.S., most notably in the atmospheric works by artists associated with the Light and Space movement (1950-1970). Artists who were part of this movement—including Robert Irwin, James Turrell and Larry Bell—typically created minimalist art that was concerned with how geometric shapes and the use of light could affect the environment and perception. By adding in time—through the weaving and layering of historical and contemporary cultural symbols and exploring personal histories and the natural world—the artists in Light, Space and Time are creating work that is also concerned with how the personal and historical affect the environment and our perception.

San Francisco-based Julie W Chang investigates how identities are constructed and how (mis)understandings of both the self and other might be resisted, subverted and reimagined. Her paintings use ancient and contemporary cultural symbols to make visible hidden histories and illustrate the cultural hybridity inherent in the world. The exhibition will feature works from Chang’s two recent series that draw from familiar visual sources like the Chinese symbol for double happiness, the Sanskrit character for AUM a symbol of the divine in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, alongside less prevalent sources including African mud cloth, Japanese shibori and Native American basket weavings. Migration I, II and III, for example, take their cue from the visual and technical components of weaving. Geometric forms float across the nearly monochromatic compositions—twinkling diamond forms and other patterns at times connecting and overlapping. Incorporating resin, Chang’s Talisman series are dazzling paintings composed of intricate and colorful layers. Fusing symbols of healing, wisdom, redemption, joy, enlightenment, interdependence and peace, the works are compendiums of goodwill. Nodding to their composite nature, Chang titles the works as portmanteaus (Lokhandaum, Cricketankursi, Happycricketstar), composites that reflect the imagery of each piece. Seen together, these works are a visual representation of human history and contemporary realities.

Summer Mei-Ling Lee, also based in San Francisco, explores themes of absence and presence, the impermanence of cultural heritage and humanity’s relationship with “the unknowable”, as seen through her paintings depicting the expanse of the ocean horizon. Her diptych works on paper and mounted on wooden structures form a mirror image of the horizon, recalling the idea of “heaven and earth” in Chinese creation myths. Previous installations of Lee’s work have included projected visuals, with images shifting between layers of translucent sheets of paper; Lee utilizes light to create different levels of visualization. In the current exhibition, her recent cyanotypes have a similar effect. Lee prints family photos onto layers of gauze so that the viewer sees various perspectives as they move around the work, the way memory and human history shift depending on time and place. Into the Nearness of Distance XX depicts the artist’s grandmother, her image hovering in a dense, translucent blue forest; Into the Nearness of Distance XXII shows an image of her son, along with the image of a hand suspended from above, perhaps a symbol of the divine.

Evoking divinity more directly, Annunciation 1 and Annunciation 3 recall Renaissance altarpieces, painted and gilded in gold leaf and depicting images of Lee’s son and grandmother alongside birds, another recurring motif in the artist’s work. According to the artist, “The gold leaf forms an enigmatic and luminous ground, a mysterious place for ancestors, descendants, and birds closest (to me) to emerge or withdraw…”. Seen through the lens of her family history, Lee’s work offers a nuanced and personal perspective on cultural heritage - evolving and shifting rather than fixed in time.

Venice, Los Angeles-based, Zhang Jian-Jun steadily explores three core concepts in art history: the interaction between nature and humans, the traces left behind by people over time and the relationship between traditional and modern living. His Rubbings series of paintings are created as a dialogue with phenomena of the natural world—the light of the sun, drops of rain and the cosmos. Speaking of the work, Zhang often recalls the moment he first learned that light from the stars takes millions of years to reach our eyes. Rubbing Cosmos is an interpretation of this concept of the immense passing of time and grappling with this reality. Rubbing Planet in Shiu-mo Space, Rubbing White Planet shows a circular form floating within a textured, monochromatic void; Rubbing Blue Planet and Rubbing Black Planet add vivid color to the expanse. Unique to this series is a ‘meteor’ - a stone covered in papier mache - that hangs alongside each painting.

Zhang's China Chapter sculptures are also influenced by time but on a shorter, more human scale. His silicone rubber works are cast from ancient ceramic vases dating to the Han, Tang, and Song Dynasties. Their contemporary material alludes to the evolving nature of today’s global connectivity, juxtaposing China’s historical artifacts with its role as a “manufacturer for the world.” Zhang invites the viewer to reconsider how quickly these intersections of cultural exchange become history.

The group exhibition opens at the beginning of May, in correlation with Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May 2024. AAPI month recognizes the contributions and influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans to the history, culture and achievements of the United States.

Summer Hours Mon-Fri 10 AM - 6 PM