The exhibition encompasses a number of latest sculptures that deepens the artist’s on-going exploration of how human need and creativeness govern the which means and worth ascribed to materials objects, and the way geography and tradition mutually affect one another. On the core of Chan’s newest inquiry is silica, one in all earth’s most plentiful chemical compounds discovered generally as quartz and in sand, in addition to within the obsidian, manufactured glass, petrified wooden, and marble varieties that determine in Chan’s sculptural types. Drawing on the bodily properties and cultural which means of silica’s numerous manifestations, Chan presents a brand new set of evocative works that intersect the architectural, biomorphic, and geological to replicate on the destiny of matter within the face of humanity’s relentless pursuit of fabric growth and abundance.
Rising up with mother and father who restored and dealt historical Chinese language antiques, Chan has lengthy been fascinated by how the evolution of human historical past is intertwined with the supplies that we use to construct and enhance civilisation. Through the COVID-19 pandemic, the artist launched into her BMW Artwork Journey around the globe searching for totally different “tokens from time” which have left indelible marks on the event of human society—from Mexican obsidian within the Teotihuacan valley to the Italian marble of Carrara, historical bronze bell foundry of Agnone to the silver of Taxco, Roman stone mosaics to low-carbon concrete. Studying in regards to the previous, current, and future of those supplies from the communities who mine, craft, or engineer them has tremendously enriched Chan’s sculptural apply with new conceptual and formal rigour.
Since her Pallet in Repose collection (2019–21), Chan has been exploring how human notion may be manipulated to view supplies and their value in a different way. What qualities make an object seem worthy and covetable? How can color, texture, weight, and quantity have an effect on our notion of matter? By inlaying resins and minerals into discarded transport pallets, Chan reworked humble refuse plastic into aesthetic constructions that always recall historical relics or sacred totems. In her newest presentation, Chan has radically altered the materiality of plastic pallets. Within the monumental set up Darkish Mild, Subterranean Circuit (2023), two pallets type a pair of architectural fittings. Whereas the arched wall mount inlaid with rippled amber resin and lustrous gold-sheen obsidian carved by obsidian craftsmen of San Juan Teotihuacan evokes the luminosity of stained-glass, as with many reworked pallets in Chan’s oeuvre, the cratered flooring piece completely sculpted with epoxy clay resembles fossil stone. Exhibiting via its lithic crater and crevices are copper chrome mirror inlays, yellow zinc wheels, and 3D-printed bronze wildflowers that appear as if valuable ore in an open-pit mine. By masking the pallet’s plasticity with epoxy clay and inlaying varied minerals and metals, Chan transforms mass-produced tools into temporally ambiguous artefacts that intrigue us to rethink the (after)lifetime of supplies—if historical obsidian was as soon as mined for making ceremonial blades and wholesaled immediately as feng shui crystal, yesterday’s detritus plastic might but turn into tomorrow’s treasure in keeping with the whims of human need.
Chan’s manipulation of plastic with epoxy clay additionally endows her work with a brand new haptic sensibility that prompts our tactile creativeness. In Lithic Present (2023), discarded bumper packagings are rigorously sculpted to resemble stone, but their supple bend and hollows trace at a sure plasticity just like the burden and quantity of the sculpture’s central pallet fragment. The indeterminate materiality and physicality draw us nearer—might this mysterious ovoid with a mineral “eye” be an historical animist totem or some futuristic stele? In three different associated works Moth (2023), Moth (Blinded Sphinx) (2023) and Moth (Silver Cloud) (2023) put in in a dimmed room via a slim portal, Chan carves from transport pallets sharp triangular fragments that hold on the wall like resting moths in a cave. Their plastic surfaces are smoothed over with clay to assimilate petrified wooden inlays and pure magnesium. Showing extra viscous than lithic, these sculptures beckon us to as soon as once more surmise rigorously—might they be unusual gothic relics, or natural tar fossils of some winged creature that when fluttered with zest just like the short-lived arthropods in Virginia Woolf’s The Dying of the Moth (1942)?
The fabric charade continues in Chan’s newest additions to the Blindfold Receptor collection (2019–current). Impressed by caterpillars of the peppered moth, which have developed to understand color with receptors on their pores and skin, this collection options geometric spinal constructions that recall each equipment and bug. Whereas Chan had beforehand used industrial metal helps and plastic wheels coated in marbled clay, Blindfold Receptor (Crawling Jewel–Moss I) (2023), Blindfold Receptor (Crawling Jewel–Moss II) (2023), and Blindfold Receptor (Crawling Jewel–Moss III) (2023) make use of glass columns and sorts of green-veined marble that invite extra skeletal and biomorphic associations. Because the glass construction displays and refracts mild on the similar time, it acts as each floor and lustre that continually modifications relying on our standpoint. A more in-depth look would additionally reveal that the sinuous column of clear omni wheels locked inside the glass columns is just not because it appears. Much less cool to the contact, they’re in actual fact 3D-printed plastic that merely mimic glass. Very similar to the chameleonic caterpillars that impressed this collection, Chan’s newest “Blindfold Receptors” not solely interact our visible but in addition tactile senses to decipher totally different materials stimuli.
As Chan expands her sculptural vocabulary with new supplies, she additionally persistently returns to the identical types such because the grid, the circle, and the triangle—important geometry that constructions our world of matter—and make us surprise, what number of methods can we be made to understand and perceive our world in a different way? Whereas typically taking after types that allude to deep time, Chan’s sculptures comprise a large number of palimpsests—fossils of the traditional previous, latest waste spewed out from the worldwide capitalist provide chain, the traces of business equipment, the fragile hand of the sculptor. From ashes to ashes, mud to mud; maybe some of the pertinent questions posed by Chan’s works is how we might take into consideration the ecology of supplies in a world of finite sources.
—Joyce Hei-ting Wong
at Capsule Shanghai
till October 28, 2023