Serendipitously coinciding with its second anniversary last month, Fou Gallery, an apartment gallery and creative lab founded by Echo He and Jessie Yang, moved into its new home in a brownstone on a quiet tree-lined street in the Stuyvesant Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn.
On the century-old townhouse’s second floor, a pair of French doors open to a sunlit parlor with a decorative wooden fireplace, recesses, and full height windows and doors. In addition to serving as the primary exhibition space for curated shows, the room, which stretches from the front of the building to the back and is much larger than the gallery’s previous space, will also host artist talks for Fou’s popular UNTITLEDdialogue series, film screenings, and sound performances. A classic steel spiral staircase joins the gallery’s lower level where private dinners, afternoon tea parties, and other intimate gatherings will take place. As it turns a residential setting into a place that welcomes all who appreciate art and creative practices, Fou puts into practice its philosophy that “enjoying art is an essential part of everyday life.”
Fou Gallery opens the new space’s inaugural exhibition this Saturday, March 19, with a group show. A Piece of Paper features eight artists from various cultural backgrounds — some for whom an empty sheet of paper is a canvas where ideas are visualized and others for whom paper is more than a surface.
In Xinyi Cheng‘s oil paintings and watercolors, hirsute men are a recurring motif. The viewer’s attention is drawn into their existential dilemmas as they examine the paintings’ mundane and absurd stories and Cheng’s borderless brushstrokes. Michael Eade‘s prints reflect his “on-going exploration” of creating delicate and varyingly “dense landscapes depicting real world places associated with mythologies referencing Eastern and Western art historical landscape formats.”
Zhangbolong Liu and Zhe Zhu convey existence and the ephemeral through photography. In his Traces series, started in 2012, Liu documents objects that have already disappeared completely from view. His subject matter is the capture of the “existence of non-existent things.” Zhu mimics vanitas still-life paintings of the 16th and 17th centuries in Flanders in his Vanitas series and reinterprets the vanitas theme of the brevity and the ephemeral nature of worldly things in Fast Food in which greasy fast food in different stages of consumption and decay is juxtaposed with more traditional vanitas objects.
Contrasting Liu’s and Zhu’s philosophical ponderings, Morgan O’Hara captures fleeting action in her LIVE TRANSMISSION freehand drawings that translate movements — by performers, craftsmen, workers, and even the human heart in their regular course of action and in their natural environment — into energetic lines on a flat surface.
Permanent marks on paper which Chang Yuchen likens to damaging the medium are also a means to record the process of time. For this exhibition, she explores printmaking with Heart Sutra a long accordion-bound scroll of Japanese paper on which hearts, each uniquely designed and etched, are imprinted.
Wei Jia upends the brush to paper tradition of Chinese calligraphy and discovers a balance between eastern and western abstract elements. Using charcoal instead of ink to copy calligraphic works, he then layers and retraces. From the resulting translucent image emerges a “sense of distance and void”. Other experiments involve writing and dripping ink on xuan paper before tearing them up and rearranging the pieces into new images.
Finally, Lin Yan reconceptualizes paper as a medium. In her works, which are often site-specific sculptural forms, xuan paper is given mass with help from lighting and textures from ink staining and the natural fibers of the the paper.
In the show’s press release, the gallery says, “Compared to large-scale oil paintings, works on paper are more intimate and accessible, reflecting artists’ personal thoughts in the studio.” This perspective towards the works is a reflection Fou’s aura, and the gallery’s new home promises to be an ideal space to view and experience them.
A Piece of Paper is on view at Fou Gallery, 410 Jefferson Avenue, #1, Brooklyn, from March 19 – May 8, 2016. The opening reception is March 19 from 5 – 8 PM. RSVP is required.
Lead image: Chang Yuchen, Heart Sutra, 2015. Etching on paper, accordion bound, 4.5 x 8 in. x 12 pages, edition of 12. Images courtesy of the artists and Fou Gallery.