I Wasn’t There: New Works by Lily Wong
Kapp Kapp is running the final week of Lily Wong’s solo show at their Philly venue, and being big fans of the work we had to give this great presentation a mention on our website. I Wasn’t There is the first Philly show for a Seattle-born artist, introducing a body of new works on paper and panel she's been developing during the year of lockdowns and uncertainty.
Saying we're fans of the work shouldn't come as a surprise if you look at the quirky and instantly recognizable imagery and you know the type of stuff we're usually into. Approaching painting from an illustration standpoint, mixing the East Asian image making with comic-like appeal and trickery, all while utilizing the plain old weirdness to communicate familiar anxieties and concerns, Wong is ticking most of the crucial boxes in our book. With the clumsy, insecure and therefore relatable recurring character reappearing in each of the works, these single narrative paintings are capturing both the joy and anxiety of the world inside and around us.
As stated in the press release for the show, "Wong is fascinated by the intersections of temptation and tenderness, loss and love, and impulse and curiosity" and this approach can be instantly felt when looking at any given piece in this presentation. Quirky and captivating at the first glance, the images start unfolding their narrative from the moment we start paying attention to the ways they have been constructed. From the inviting warmth of her monochromatic, yellow-dominated color palette, over easy-to-swallow compositions, the eye proceeds to suggestive perspectives and light placement, uncomfortable body postures, and finally, the facial expressions that evoke fear, anxiety, and borderline terror. Regularly blending the elements of her Korean-Chinese-American upbringing when depicting the situations and portraying her rounded and almost exclusively naked protagonists, Wong is challenging the rigidity of the patriarchal norms through a lens of multicultural experience. By placing her mundane scenes in an exaggerated, dreamy sphere she transcends physical reality and individuality and creates a sense of universality about our everyday dualities. —Sasha Bogojev