A year ago, when I first encountered Yvonne Feng's drawings and paintings (during the selection of the Now in Reverse open call), I was intrigued by the intimate and personal narrative in her work over which an invisible threat was hovering. Among them, one drawing in particular depicted this threat, and it instantly assured me to include her in the exhibition. You are one of us (2014) portrays a soldier on the top of a column, emerging from waves of floating bodies, with his machine gun pointing down at them.
During the Now in Reverse exhibition, Feng was voted by the public as one of the two favourite artists and rewarded with a solo show. Since then she has been working on a new exhibition of paintings and drawings presented here at Hundred Years Gallery, titled An Amnesiac’s Stories.
The artist’s amnesiac experience started from an unexpected phone call about a detention. Since then, the artist has submerged herself in the sea of blurred images and colours of her emotions that come back to her. She turns her memory or fantasy into ambiguous imagery to provoke particular narratives and psychological states.
For me, her work suggests a political statement of our modern society and mirrors us in the collective powerless situations in which, at any moment, any of us can become an agent of the State's power, or its counterpart, the victim. Her work presents no clear sight of identity, narrative or memory... just stills, clues, shadows and impersonal objects. A sense of psychological intensity presides over her current work, leaving us with an uneasy wonder in the void.
The threat which struck me in the drawing You are one of us has transformed into a more intimate and mysterious kind in the present exhibition. Amnesia is a deficit in memory, but what the artist has presented here is her desire for the lost. These stories are not truly forgotten and they are traceable through her touches.
Text by Montse Gallego, Director at Hundred Years Gallery.
Hundred Years Gallery is very proud to present the first solo show by Chinese artist Yvonne Feng. Yvonne was publicly voted as one of the two favourite artists selected in the open call ‘Now in Reverse’ during December 2014 at Hundred Years Gallery and rewarded with a solo show.
Yvonne Feng’s practice explores the subjects of loss, absence, presence, entrapment, and power relationships. Derived from personal and fictional narratives, her drawings and paintings present absurd scenarios in which an individual embraces interwoven emotions and unfolds a split contradictory self, in conflict with the others and her surroundings. Her work often has a fractured and contingent quality in terms of time and space with a mysterious idea of narrative following through.
Feng’s practice hovers over the boundaries between art and life. The narrative in her work refers to a political event, one that happened to her family, in anambivalent and ambiguous manner. It transforms beyond the specifics of a personal story and occupies a shared emotional space with the viewer. Her work shows an urge to represent the reality of daily life, historical events and contemporary affairs. Through drawing and painting, she recalls a specific touch, moment or event. Such tracing activity is not to mirror what exists or has passed, but to realise it and to search for unrealised possibilities. She forges the raw material of life events into stories, then constructs a fictional space which encapsulates her psychological states and reflects upon the outside world.
Feng’s work challenges the nature of communication and the potential of storytelling in contemporary drawing and painting, furthermore addressing the questions of how much one should disclose one’s life stories in making art, to what extent one’s life stories determine how artwork is read, and how the work of art as a fictional creation is able to imply the meaning of one’s life.