Following on the heels of two illustration-influenced solo projects, this two person show featuring the Singaporean female artist Genevieve Chua and newly minted Hong Kong visual arts graduate Trevor Yeung seems to find Gallery Exit having embraced an identity as a full-fledged drawing program. The choice is a good one: director Aenon Loo seems to have an unfailing eye for the living line, reflected in the various works on paper, small paintings, and photographic collages that often populate his exhibitions.
The two strongest sets of work here transform the most fundamental experience of drawing--the making of marks on a flat surface--into an organic and uncanny process for the production of agency along the plane of the work. For Chua, this is Adinandra Belukar 4-5 (both 2011), two small works in graphite on black paper that depict abstracted renderings of wild plants and primary growth vegetation, an unrestrained life force of sorts seen to take over its environment unflinchingly. The project was first shown at the Singapore Biennale this past spring, where the drawings constituted a floor-to-ceiling immersive environment in a dark room made visible only by ambient light leaking in from under the door and from two digital animations. One of the latter video pieces reappears here on a small monitor, offering what would appear to be a computer sketch of a tree turning on a central axis in virtual space and resulting in an effect somewhat like the nervousness of an animated GIF. Here the uncontrollable growth of the plants is reproduced in this ceaseless motion, bringing the images of all three exhibition objects to life.
Somewhere in a parallel universe of similarly vibrant botanical affect, Yeung has fabricated several surfaces of ink on wood coated in resin entitled Patience Practice 1 and 3 (2011). The title indicates that, like no small number of the artists in the Gallery Exit stable, the artist understands his practice as akin to a form of meditation of durational endurance, though I would prefer to believe that he, like Chua, is actually engaged in the mindful production of living forms that are expected to both take over the wooden surfaces on which they are etched and crawl like parasites across the walls of the exhibition space. Certainly, if nothing else, the conversation between the wood sheets and Chua’s graphite drawings from one central wall of the space to the other is haunting and not a little bit disturbing. The forms of Yeung’s boards are fundamentally cartographic, and the ink lines that are applied to these shapes waver between the violent, attempting to restrain the organic silhouette into tight grids, and sympathetic, expanding upon already existing angles and corners.
Photographic work is also well represented in the exhibition, although there is something about the purity of the two exploded drawing projects discussed here that makes the inclusion of any other images feel somewhat extraneous. Nevertheless, the work is categorically good: Chua contributes work from the series Child and Beast (2011), picturing the body of a young girl transmuted into an icon of horror, while Yeung applies more of his ink-on-wood forms to photographs such that the sculptural shapes seem to devour the subjects of the original images.
-- Robin Peckham
(All images courtesy of Gallery Exit and the artists.)