summer palace: YaYa Yajie Liang | Curated by Kat Sapera

23 June - 22 July 2023 Gallery Exhibitions
Cob is pleased to present Summer Palace - the debut solo exhibition for London based artist YaYa Yajie Liang, curated by Kat Sapera. 
At its core, Liang’s ongoing artistic and academic enquiry investigates animality, becoming other and the interconnectivity between organisms in the natural world. To be experienced much like an axis mundi, Liang’s paintings traverse a spiritual realm and a natural world. 
Currently completing a PHD in Fine Art at the Royal College of Art, Liang sees The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka as a crucial literary reference to her paintings.  In tandem with her profound interest in the themes of Kafka’s novella, Liang interrogates a concept of 'transformative becoming' - a metaphysical theory expounded by Félix Guattari and Gilles Deleuze in their collaborative work A Thousand Plateaus - published in 1980. 
Comparative to Green Porno, a celebrated short film series which playfully enacts and embodies the mating rituals of various insects and other animals and conceived , written, directed and starring Italian actress Isabella Rossellini  - Liang tries to consider creatures and natural forms in her paintings from within - often recognising her own body, desires and impulses intertwining with these anthro and biomorphic shapes.  Spiderwebs, birds, snails, seahorses and beetles writhe and emerge from Liang’s swirling compositions.  Incorporating a site specific mural, Summer Palace as an exhibition intends to create an environment of paintings as a mesh to move through -  evoking a feeling of being in a forest surrounded by trees whilst encouraging the viewer to consider their body in relation to the natural world.
Summer Palace brings together a body of work completed by Liang since late 2022, made up of large and small scale paintings and a suite of watercolours on Chinese rice paper.  The works have been created since Liang’s participation in the Vanucci Artist Residency in Italy in October 2022.  Whilst on the residency, Liang had the opportunity to visit the cloisters of Fra Angelico and engaged in painting whilst living surrounded by nature for the first time, both experiences fundamentally inspired the development on the works for the exhibition.
Kat Sapera is an independent curator and consultant, writer and editor, based in London. Sapera held the position of Director at Timothy Taylor, overseeing the exhibition programme in both London and New York, and more recently, was a Director at Simon Lee Gallery, London. Sapera has curated a number of independent exhibitions and is based between London and Barcelona. Summer Palace is the second collaboration between Kat Sapera and YaYa Yajie Liang, following the curated group exhibition Machines of Desire at Simon Lee Gallery, London and Hong Kong, 2022.
The exhibition is supported with a discussion between YaYa Yajie Liang and curator Gemma Rolls-Bentley on the subject of Queer Ecology.

With thanks to Simon Nixon & family.