Nov 10, 2021 -
Jan 30, 2022
Nov 10, 2021 14:00 Wednesday
Sun Yitian takes Hegel’s beautiful metaphor of philosophy as inspiration for her much-anticipated second solo exhibition at BANK. The owl has always been a sagacious creature in Western mythology due to its close association with Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom. Hegel claims that (the owl) wisdom takes wing with dusk, or that the meaning and purpose of an era can come only in hindsight, at the close of that epoch. Sun frames her exhibition with images of an owl on one side and a depiction of Minerva- not only the goddess of wisdom but of the arts, trade, and war - on the other. By bookending a seemingly fantastical adventure in imagery (inflatable toys, an enigmatic beach scene, shiny jewels, etc.) with these two symbols of wisdom, Sun poses the question - what in hindsight might these lustrous signifiers of our contemporary material culture add up to? What wisdom can we procure from the trajectory of our material feats? What will self-conscious reflection bare from the sparkles and dust on these immaculate surfaces? Sun has always been focused on the surface of objects, most notably inflatable plastic toys. Growing up around the market stalls of Yiwu, watching Disney, and drinking bubble tea, it is only natural that these objects of tactile compulsion have landed on Sun’s austere canvas’. But her penetrating technique and exacting surfaces- surfaces that “fosters the urge to lick them” lead the viewer into her trap. These objects, at once playful, hollow and ostentatious also possess an ominous side, one that her signature, intense drop shadow exaggerates and that our society’s increasing unsustainability corroborates. Karen Smith writing in Sun’s forthcoming catalog essay states “It has been said that Sun Yitian’s art is a reflection of its context, created within a numb society fascinated with façade, obsessed with smooth, nervous of anything dark lurking behind a simple façade”. Yet it is the reciprocal paradox of aversion and attraction that is of interest here- there is always dark where there is light and it is the shades of night in which the owl flies.
Deep eyes wandering, piercing the reality of the maze’s barrier, seeing numerous appearances, no way to know the hidden heart. Owls take off at dusk and see the trace of everything that has happened during the day, all the tracks of birds flying over, the trails of mountains and rivers, the glimpses of islands circling, the soaring reflections of water. All objects are visible in the light and observed in the dark. They are static, dynamic, multi-layered, fictitious and artificial. Wherever they go they stop; wherever they go they are scenery.
Sun Yitian 2021.10.25