It’s hard not to be impressed with Toronto based artist Winnie Truong. Her mastery of colored pencil is only matched by her love of drawing hair. This month, she opens a new solo show in New York’s lower east side at Mulherin Gallery. This new exhibition displays Truong’s skills front and center in the form of seven large-scale drawings and smaller paper-cut works. While she draws upon her previous series, the exhibition centers around a simple but impactful image, the pearl. Aptly named “Mother of Pearl”, Truong’s new works feature an array of peculiar figures, mainly comprised of scintillating strands of hair, either adorned in pearls or bearing the shimmering shades of one. Sensual and soft, the work is inherently feminine and according the artist, explores ideas of “nature and anatomy, object and beauty.” Truong goes onto explain - “As my previous work on the subject of beauty and hair evolves, my recent drawings weave the female figure with familiar forms from the natural world. Inspired by the aesthetic and symbolic qualities of pearl, they transmute this hard gem beyond ornament.”
With brilliant line work and luminous tonal shifts, “Mother of Pearl” is a testament to the artist’s craft and attention to detail. Truong’s drawings pull influence from organic forms found in nature. Each work is titled with their respective inspiration, pieces like the “The Angler And Her Lure” and “Conch Eye” all subtly point to their earthly origins but remain uniquely ambiguous in their representation. Done in Truong’s distinctive illustrative style, each piece evokes the signature aesthetic elements of the pearl. Pastel tones, luminous highlights and elegant compositions, “Mother of Pearl” showcases Truong’s ability to flesh out a singular idea in a variety of ways.
Additionally, she considers the problematic historical significance of the pearl, typically associated with exclusivity and status as well as tyranny and the Bourgeoisie. In her own words, “This series teases the legacy of this heirloom object. The natural pearl is rare and coveted while those carefully cultivated are pejoratively cast alongside their imitations. Considering these roots in opulence and oppression, my work occupies an atmosphere rife with both elegance and absurdity. Each woman is suspended in her own world and subverts biological expectations: whether by zoomorphic ability as in Hidden Trails or birthing their own environments as in Belle Nacre. In each performance of femininity is a wellspring of endless creation, expression and transgression: a sentiment I see echoed in the color-shifting iridescent nature of mother of pearl.” —Jessica Ross
“Mother of Pearl” is on view at Mulherin Gallery in New York till October 29th, be sure to check it out.