Fay Ku, ‘Mermaid in Flight’, 2009, Tamarind Institute

About Fay Ku

Claiming that paper suits her temperament, allowing her to work as quickly as her ideas flow, Fay Ku creates finely detailed mixed-media drawings centered around small, mostly female figures in inexplicably strange, tension-filled, often menacing scenarios. Inspired by literature, films, and her keenly observed surroundings, Ku layers references in her works, whose open-ended, ambiguous narratives recall nightmares, horror films, fairy tales, and childhood fears and fantasies. “My characters explore the fluidity of identity—sexual, cultural, personal, and political—and the ambiguity in relationships with one another,” she says. Many of her characters seem to embody multiple, often conflicting, identities: little girls are sweet and deranged, pre-adolescents exude innocence and eroticism, and men appear aggressive and impotent. By isolating her figures against white backgrounds, Ku deliberately de-contextualizes them, pushing them uncomfortably, daringly, and seductively into the viewer’s space.

Taiwanese, b. 1974, Taipei, Taiwan, based in New York, New York