Various Small Fires is pleased to present I Will Wade Out, a solo exhibition by Brooklyn-based artist Lily Wong. The exhibition of new works on paper is the artist’s first solo show on the West Coast.
In her latest body of work, Wong reflects on seeking ancestral and spiritual connectivity through a culturally fractured lens. This series of paintings stems from Wong’s experience of reconnecting with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Her allegorical paintings reference body meridian charts, physical pressure points and bodily imbalances. The works present figures who inhabit various states of navigation or disorientation.
Many of Wong’s new paintings incorporate botanic imagery that alludes to TCM methods of integrating the body and mind with the natural world. Sprawling tree limbs, vines, and roots mirror the extended postures and gestures of the bodies they accompany. These figures search for a network of their own, as seen in To Pass Through, 2022 or Into the Ripe Air, 2022. In the latter, a constellation of stars corresponds with the lung meridian of the left arm. In other works, the figures find themselves stunted by their uncertainty. The protagonist in Dislocations (Pell Street), 2022, finds herself alone on the deserted streets of NYC’s Chinatown. In Command Point, 2022, two figures carry a door constructed without a knob – an inaccessible entryway.
The exhibition takes its title from the first line of Bjork’s rendition of e.e. cumming’s poem “Crepuscule”. In her song “Sun in My Mouth,” the singer vulnerably and exuberantly welcomes an exploration of sensations. Wong shares a similar perspective as she considers the ways we attempt to access inherited knowledge and experience its manifestations on the body.