Eight Modern is pleased to announce its upcoming exhibition, Fay Ku: Asa Nisa Masa.
Ku stages mythic tableaus of transformation and tension performed by young women (and the occasional boy). The refinement and subtlety of Ku’s technique offer an arresting contrast to the raw psychological charge of the scenes she depicts.
Ku is inspired by what she calls the “residues” of human culture. “Problematic relationships and issues of socialization are central themes in my work: stories, myths and things witnessed inspire me,” Ku says. “I never have any pre-conceived notion of what the work will look like, and I never sketch beforehand. I work to discover what I am thinking, and I have to find my way to the image.”
Working from her imagination, Ku starts by drawing a face, then adds and erases until her ideas coalesce on paper.
“I grew up in two cultures as the child of Chinese immigrants raised in all-white American suburbs,” Ku says. “The intersection of the personal, social and cultural is where my work lives.”
Ku explains the exhibition title Asa Nisa Masa: “It’s from Fellini’s 8½, where the Fellini-like protagonist remembers when, as a child, he is told the magic words to make a painting come to life at midnight,” Ku explains. “Also, if you take the ‘sa’ off the end of each nonsense word, it spells ‘anima.’”
The reference to ‘anima’ is fitting, as she utilizes zoomorphism and id-driven characters to examine social norms and human interactions.
Born in Taiwan, Ku moved to America when she was three. Her bold use of negative space and clean, calligraphic line recall traditional Asian art, while her focus on the figure is more characteristic of American art. Conflict pervades her work, as her line is both urgent and graceful; her images are violent yet coolly stylized.
Ku earned an M.S. in Art History and an M.F.A. in Studio Art from the Pratt Institute. She earned a dual B.A. in literature and visual arts from Bennington College. Ku has been awarded numerous residencies from organizations such as the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Santa Fe Art Institute, the National Performance Network, the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art. Currently based in Brooklyn, the artist has also received grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, the A.I.R. Emerging Artist Fellowship, the National Performance Network and the Urban Artists Initiative. Her work resides in the collections of the Asian American Art Centre in New York, The Contemporary Museum in Hawaii, the New Britain Museum of American Art and the University of New Mexico Art Museum.