Date of Award
Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art
First Reader/Committee Chair
My work depicts female sexual experience, particularly the complexity of the subject and corporeality. The series Pair, examines the notions of individual subjectivity as porous at the site of desire. These images explore moments of sensual experience - moments when the individual subject is destabilized and becomes indistinguishable from another.
Very much like the Chinese brush painting tradition of having the viewer experience the mountain and streams in performative brush strokes, I intend to capture the feeling and expression of the body and communicate the feeling of that sexualized body with a calligraphic mark. Instead of illustrating a figure's features and thereby imposing a single narrative of the female body or sexuality, I use abstracted forms of watery mass created by pools of ink to draw the viewer into an atmosphere of erotic intensity between the two figures depicted. It is in that intensity that intimacy and connectiveness is expressed. The intertwining figures are separate entity yet they remain indistinguishable from one another, suggesting that subjectivity is destabilized. My painting isn't so much about the consciousness of mutual or co-dependency in a relationship, rather, that codependency is reinforced in the destabilization of the self during sex. I'm trying to capture a moment when both bodies opens up to each other. There are two figures depicted, yet the figures are one in the same. I can not possibly paint or express how another woman feels, I can not even paint how or what my partner feels, I can only express how my subjectivity is no-longer my own and becomes dependent and intertwine with another. So in a sense these figures express multiple selfies or are multiple self portraits.
Geometric shapes outlined in gold overlays the figures and act as a placeholders for the ropes motifs that appears in my previous works, in a sense they “bound” the figures and at the same time, display the limitation of occupiable space or the limitation of their co-dependency. A gloss medium is applied to the negative space inside the geometric shape, further emphasizing the differentiated occupiable space within the metallic boundaries and the background of the painting.
The fragmentary pencil images that surround the plural figures come from the same body but remain apart, suggesting an alternative narrative. They provide other possibilities of the subject or perhaps another temporal space that exist parallel to the ink figures, further affirming the corrosion of subjectivity within the subject. Since the image is abstracted and layered, the work relies on the viewer's own "perverted" imagination to create a discourse between the two figures and ultimately allows the viewer to examine their own subjectivity in moments of intimacy.
Further development of my work lead me to make cuts and add layers to the painting as an action to reconsider that a painting could exist in multiple dimensional space, straddling between two and three dimensions. In consideration of Luce Irigaray's work, the act of altering the surface breaks the uniformity of the two dimensional surface and allow the transition into a three dimensional surface. It ask the viewer to consider the possibility of a painting acquiring sculptural qualities without crossing the boundary and becoming a sculpture. Assuming the logic of a painting is two dimensional, it is an representation of some image, it is fiction, where as a sculpture that occupy real space require the viewing of the object to be considered in consideration of viewer’s own body, hence sculptures is real. The act of cutting and layering suggest the transitional space from non-physical to physical, and in a sense the space between fiction to non-fiction, the unreal to real. The materiality of the paintings parallel the idea of the figure’s subjectivity, constantly shifting and altering. This allows the material and process of making to add to the self/non-self dialog of the figures.
Cheuk, Sapira, "Chiasma: Plural Selves on Ink and Paper" (2016). Electronic Theses, Projects, and Dissertations. 414.