Gallery EXIT is pleased to present Safety Island, the second solo exhibition of Sarah Lai with the gallery. Included in the show are 5 sets of paintings and a video that continues the artist's probing into a sense of estrangement with the familiar. Lai adopts photography's aptness in mirroring reality and seeks to reconnect with her surroundings through renditions of captured scenes. Yet unlike reality itself, Lai strips the mundane objects and structures, such as a golf flag and roundabout, off of their functions and subtly beautifies them with cool faded colours. The soft meticulous brush strokes and hazy images on canvas create an uncanny world where the man-made melds into nature to become one seamless landscape.
In the exhibition's title piece "Safety Island", a smooth marble-like beach raft floats steadily in the placid waters. The tranquil seascape seems to be unperturbed by this alien construction. In "A drowsy car", an overturned vehicle lolls unscathed in the soft meadow. In the absence of casualty and destruction, this pastoral scene of accident is neither violent nor distressful. Its composition points to surrender as the artist beckons to reconcile with the unperfected nature of life. Through this series of work, Lai deals with defeatism and unsentimentally offers remission.
For the artist, the creative process offers a temporary shelter as she tries to consolidate her place in the world. In a sense, painting becomes a safety island. Lai insists that this state of mind should not be constant but a pause in a journey to allow moments of uninterrupted inspection.
Sarah Lai graduated from the Fine Arts Department, Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2007. In the same year, she received the Ramon Woon Creative Prize, Grotto Fine Arts Ltd.'s Creative Award and Cheng's Fine Arts Award in Western Painting. Lai is also a Finalist of the 2010 Sovereign Asian Art Prize.
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