“Oftentimes, I feel like the Asian American experience is that people don’t see us as whole—as a full person with complex stories,” Fung said. “I think a lot about the way the Western lens has portrayed us, or how they see us, when I’m painting.” Below the meat hangers in Ultra-Realism, porcelain plates and vases are neatly displayed, visualizing the close proximity of Chinese women’s bodies to that of China—both the material and the country. In this painting, Fung simultaneously addresses the space between flesh and commodity that women of Chinese descent inhabit, and the dire consequences of such dehumanization.
Fung began to include Chinese antiques in her work after moving to the United States in 2016 and seeing the way Asian art was reduced and removed from its history in New York museums. “It made me question my place in the world and how I felt in terms of my displacement from my origins,” Fung explained. “Those questions led me to paint these objects, to think about them as witnesses to my ancestral history: what they’ve seen, how they came across the ocean, whether they were stolen or purchased, whether they were highly valued or had no value.”