While summer revelers converge on the shores of the cooling Atlantic in Southampton, New York, UNIX Gallery is busily preparing for its booth at Art Southampton 2014. For this year’s fair, the gallery brings together the varied work of five contemporary artists: Shin Kwang Ho, Marcello Lo Giudice, Desire Obtain Cherish (DOC), Ling Jian, and Zhuang Hong Yi. All fresh from the studio, the artworks span painting, works on paper, and sculpture; range from abstraction to representation (and sometimes encompass both); and present viewers with new angles on a myriad of social, political, and cultural issues—among them, that of the nature of identity.
Inspired by the vigorously painted, emotion-fueled compositions of the Action Painters, South Korean artist Shin Kwang Ho works with oil paint and charcoal on canvas to produce portraits that merge inner states with outer appearance. In two untitled portraits included in the exhibition, he creates sketchy, expressive heads out of a multicolored patchwork of exuberant brushstrokes. Here, flesh and features are replaced by thick marks of pigment, reflecting the tumult of thoughts and emotions normally hidden from view, which, as the artist so clearly demonstrates, fundamentally shape who we are.
Chinese artist Ling Jian explores ideals of femininity and beauty—a form of culturally imposed identity—in his highly stylized portraits of Chinese women. In Scent of a Flower (2013), he presents a close-up image of the so-called perfect woman, complete with exquisitely formed, delicate, perfectly balanced features and lush, red lips, in front of which she holds a flower. Though she stares directly out at the viewer, she appears inaccessible, flat, almost alien, an image of an ideal, not a human being.
Even the walls are imbued with personality in this summer show, thanks to street artist and sculptor, Desire Obtain Cherish (DOC). If you’ve ever wondered what the walls that hold the art might think, look no further than his Waste of Good Wall Space (2013). In the form of two oversized, acrylic iPhone text messages, one wall says: “Looks like this is a waste of good wall space to me.” To which the other petulantly replies: “I know right? I’m a decent wall and I think I deserve better art ;(”—a sentiment with which visitors to UNIX Gallery’s booth are sure to disagree.