Cob Gallery are pleased to announce painter Faye Wei Wei's first US solo exhibition 'Sweet Bitter, Valentine' at SADE Gallery, Los Angeles.
8th September 2018: 7 - 11pm
When it came to writing the accompanying text for this exhibition, it felt only fitting to ask my darling brother, who can conjure words of golden love and who has the most sensitive eyes i have ever been blessed to know my whole life. (To know you is a blessing.) Thank you Alastair for taking the time to slow down and consider with an open heart my visual world, transforming these paintings alchemically into your language. These paintings are not about flowers, but rather the secret language of flowers, about blooming, about love.
The following text is written by my brother.
My dear sister, whose paint makes worlds of gossamer and poesy, places her tender emotions under such unbearable pressure that they emerge, with a gem-like hardness (yet somehow - still - soft and supple), as symbols strewn across her canvas. Like Edmund Spenser's Faerie Queene, her allegories and signs become universes unto themselves; her very own Bower of Bliss, a seductive, liquor-stained land of earthly pleasure.
I have seen my sister work in a trance. Her body dances furiously across the canvas but the most astonishing thing is to see her passionate figures bloom slowly like the gentle unfurling of a flower. This guiding metaphor is perfectly apt because her pictures make primal whispers of falling in love; the brief - too brief - tragedy of the flower from bud to blossom, to wilt and decay. That the violence of her movements can produce such fragile, tragic works is almost inconceivable.
For Faye, poetry plays out the initial trigger for the paintings, she seeks out language heavy with romance and inscapes of desire. Sappho is the matriarch whose ghostly presence and lost words move my sister's lithe hand and quivering heart. The very title of the exhibition is taken from Fragment 130, charting the fatal trajectory of love from sweet to bitter:Eros once again limb-loosener whirls meSweet bitter, impossible to fight off, creature stealing up.
When my sister tasked me with writing some words for her, I was surprised, nervous and more than a little anxious. I was under no small pressure not to let her down. But, upon reflection, it made complete sense for an artist whose diaphanous use of paint invites you into an intimate play of gazes. Faye's work is about a paradox between intimacy and confrontation: the bread and butter of any family's tumultuous ups and downs.
I speak of confrontation because her romantic figures refuse to sit still upon the canvas, emerging through the sheer force of their gaze that pierces quite. The punctum of her works lies in an androgyne visage that acts on you. Their gaze is ambiguous one: are her figures analysing, desiring, inviting or, even, reprimanding us, the voyeurs who dare to interrupt their ceremony of love? Nonetheless, they threaten to take you into her infinite cabinet of treasures.
Yet paradoxically, even as they hold you at arm's length, Faye's paintings are incredibly generous. The symmetry of her figures represent the push and pull of this curious frisson. Indeed, in this new body of work, the ribbons and snakes in X or the stems of flowers in Y, tilt and bow toward one another, doubled, wrapped and enraptured in a fleshy kind of dance or fight.
Jeanette Winterson once wrote of Djuna Barnes' seminal work of queer fiction Nightwood that:
"It is its own created world, exotic and strange, and reading it is like drinking wine with a pearl dissolving in the glass. You have taken in more than you know, and it will go on doing its work. From now on, a part of you is pearl-lined."
Such beautiful words I dare not match but, indeed, when you encounter Faye's worlds, whether you know it or not, you leave with more than you know. Do remember the sweetbitter tragedy of the blossoming flower.
204 South Avenue 19
Los Angeles, CA 90031