The Brooklyn-based Artist Explores the Ambiguous Complexities of Life With Vibrant Optimism
After six years since her first show at Tokyo’s Nanzuka Gallery, Brooklyn-based painter, sculptor, and installation artist Julia Chiang returns with a series of abstract paintings and ceramics in ‘Pump and Bump’.
While visually mesmerising, Julia’s works offer a liberation of structure and form. Fascinated by the potential and precision of the body and hand, her works are solely crafted with meticulous attention and detail by physical exertion. It is a perfect alignment for the context of her works, that explore the human form’s metaphorical and literal activities, emotions and functions.
Her work presents an abstract visualisation of the complexities and ambiguities of life, interpreted through a series of repetitive strokes evoking living cells or gravity-defying raindrop molecules moving together in a directional pull. Although their function and structure is unknown, their organic forms reflect physical and mental abstractions that cross internal (fluids) and external movements such as dance. She explains, “I constantly think of our bodies. How we interact, how we function, and how all of it relates to things beyond us. Violence, love, healing, boundaries, control, all the things that we create & destroy.”
Julia’s work leads with a rigorous optimism, translated through her vibrant use of colour and empowering notions. ‘One Of A Kind’, ‘Sincerely Yours’or ‘Hugs and Kisses’ emblazoned across gallery walls driven by vibrant colours, meticulous placement and repetition. Almost as mantras, their alliterations reiterate an elementary memorandum with great conceptual depths. Here at NANZUKA, find individual ceramic letters spelling ‘Yes You Can’ consecutively placed across an entire gallery room. Working predominantly with acrylic on wood panels for her paintings and low fire earthenware ceramics with underglazes & glazes. Julia notes; “I love the richness of the reds and browns from the earthenware.”
Now presenting her show at Nanzuka Gallery again after 6 years, we question how an artist develops during this period: “It’s been awhile since showing at Nanzuka but I don’t feel that different when it comes to making work. I’m different as a person in that I juggle a lot more and don’t get to be as selfish as I used to be in the studio. My days & nights are completely consumed with being a mom while thinking about what I want and need to do in the studio. There are shifted priorities and urgencies but it’s all a part of my day.”
Working with precision and accuracy in detail in her paintings, an excessive amount of concentration and momentum is required. Julia notes, “Although obsessive, I can jump into focus pretty quickly. Since I was a kid, throwing myself into focus was a way to escape, to shut what was in front of me out. Making stuff turns off the noise you know?”
After completing a Bachelor in Studio Art and Art History at New York University, her works cross paintings, sculptures, and installations, as if together in an ongoing dialogue. “I painted as a kid but I never liked it as I was growing up. I was into objects more- clay, collage, sculpture. I think around 2000 I started playing around with watercolors & gouache and loved it. It was immediate, no waiting for layers or stages, drying.”
A significant turning point for Chiang has been the creative exchange with other artists. “I feel really fortunate that I’ve shared many special times with people who are creative but one of the greatest was connecting with my husband. I know it sounds cheesy but it changed our lives.”
Whilst juggling the concept of time as an artist and mother, Julia just like her art, remains universally optimistic. What does the future hold? “Hoping for new opportunities- to go to new places and share stories.”
‘Pump and Bump’ is currently on view at Nanzuka Gallery until 5 October, 2019
Photos: Courtesy NANZUKA
Words Champ Editor-in-Chief Joanna Kawecki