House of Perception
Oil on canvas
180 x 180 cm
“House of Perception” is a group exhibition inspired by Huxley’s quest to explore human consciousness. Presenting a selection of artworks from eight thriving artists – working in China and internationally – whose practices connect loosely on a two-dimensional plane. Ranging from one of the seminal figures of Italian Neo-expressionism to some of the most sought-after Chinese artists, their disparate practices are prisms of artistic pathos that unveil evolving concerns in politics, technology, the artistic medium, and the very zeitgeist of our time. In conceiving a framework that could accommodate such a roster of artists while bearing in mind Isabelle Graw’s notion of painting as the meta-medium, the exhibition adopts the notion of “house.” Each artist becomes a member of such a household.
While the presentation of these works acknowledges in one way or another our post-medium and post-internet conditions, it also questions to what extent artistic production is informed by established historical trends and isms. Particularly, with this international roster of artists, and their works referencing moments across history and cultures more than their own, the exhibition aims to open up channels for accessing a work of art. If we are to conceive an artist’s practice through the direct influence of teachers, educational background and cultural contexts, then the notion of “house” hopes to expand the scope that informs an artist’s becoming. This is likely to complicate the act of viewing and the extraction of meaning from relying on a specific set of historical and cultural references, especially in today’s digital age where all is accessible at an instant.
One can take an art history approach, investigating the practices that generate networks and genealogies. However, the viewer is equally encouraged to adopt a self-centered approach, akin to Huxley before he undertook his psychedelic experiment. Huxley observes that our “sensations, feelings, insights, fancies – all these are private and, except through symbols and at second hand, incommunicable. We can pool information about experience, but never the experiences themselves.”
The Dining Room at Monkton (Mae West Lips), 2021
Oil on silkscreen
160 x 145 cm
The exhibition is setup to intentionally render the context of a “house.” As some of the pictorial content suggests, its structure aims to resonate with Huxley’s experience in heightening one’s senses while approximating a place of “comfort” denoted by malaise. The “amenities” of the house, the personalities who live here, their social relationships, and their connection to a spiritual realm emanate complexities, paradox, and allegories beyond the conventional painting categories of portraiture, landscape, or still-life. In doing so, the setup and the works on view aim for active viewing and the discovery of meaning.
To the viewers of this exhibition, the moment you step into the “house of perception,” you will become our guest. We invite you to take the time to visit, to get to know each work as you would a person. Consider the works on view as “evidence” in a live investigation. Ask questions, eavesdrop on the conversations among them. Before you quickly assign any work to an artistic style, genre, ism or one of the great historical art masters, we encourage you to dig into your own experience, imagination and memories to create a “personalized” forensic report about the connections, personalities, and values of each individual artist and of this “household.”
1 Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception, Penguin Random House, 2004, p.9.