16. July – 25. July
Ron Siu & Jessica Jang
In Paul Klee’s 1922 painting titled Wachstum der Nachtpflanzen (growth of the night plants), luminous precessions of stacked, transparent, plant-like shapes reach vertically on a black ground. As they move towards the top of the canvas, the shapes become brighter, creating a sense of depth and emergence. Repetition as well as shifts in scale and value create an animated sense of time passing. The jaunty swagger of the plants contradicts their surroundings. It seems they are flourishing in the darkness. Of course, there are plants which bloom or smell sweetest at night, however, I imagine that Klee coined the term Nachtpflanzen himself, employing this invented noun as a platform for fantasy.
Our exhibition Nachtpflanzen explores the theme of nocturnal growth, given the anxieties of our current time. In Excerpts: Columbarium, Snakey, Eels, Fish Ghosts, Penjing Tree, Crying Lotus,* Jessica Jang and Ron Siu work with Chinese myths, mysticism and astrology through a series of animated vignettes. Fighting isolation and daily challenges of the pandemic, Jang and Siu were looking for ways to work remotely and collaboratively at the same time. Remixing and re-telling myths places them in a different context, and the act of doing so over and over generates its own new myth: is the scholar dreaming of the butterfly or is the butterfly dreaming of the scholar?
Jessica Groome’s Worry Worms are made with coloured pencil on black paper, each featuring two worms intertwined. They are comical, obsessive and a little unsettling. The seriality of the work provides small shifts from drawing to drawing without a linear narrative. In a similarly executed body of work titled Night Blooms, colourful insect wings, flowers and botanical motifs overlap in a dreamy garden world.
In an exchange with Groome, Satoko Kako’s recent vessels explore worm-imagery in metallic, earthy tones. Stacks of cups, plates, vases and curious blobs are grouped together on cylindrical plinths in her installation Daily Life Machine, which transforms individual pieces into surprising sculptural arrangements. Kako’s series of pastel drawings My Imaginary Vases are airy propositions, showcasing ideas which could be, but are not.
Elisabeth Greinecker’s intimate glass works are based on queer source material, reducing photographic images and drawings. Cutting, arranging and melting glass pieces together, she uses collage techniques to isolate figures and hone abstractions. Using the transparency and opacity of glass, she negotiates and subverts questions of representation.
Navigating collective fear, grief and change as we slide into summer 2021, Nachtpflanzen offers a gesture of persistence for the moment.
*Excerpts: Columbarium, Snakey, Eels, Fish Ghosts, Penjing Tree, Crying Lotus was produced by Siu and Jang during a digital residency at Factory Media Centre (Hamilton, Canada). The artists would like to acknowledge the support of FMC for the creation of this work.