The Beginning Place: Lily Wong Debuts in Paris
Galerie LJ in Paris have just welcomed New York-based artist Lily Wong for her very first solo exhibition in France, and at the gallery. She is presenting a new body of works on paper, as well as a lithograph made at IDEM in Paris.
“The Beginning Place” refers to the title of Ursula K. Le Guin’s novel (1980), which is about parallel worlds, a portal to another life, a threshold to an alternative existence. Lily Wong sees this “Beginning Place” as the beginning of a new cycle, a transition, just like her artistic career, which has begun a new phase since 2020.
In the continuity of the works she produced in 2021, where color is now dominant, Wong examines in her newest series the way in which the human being is perpetually attracted by what seems inaccessible. Her characters seem to be on hold between two possibilities: they are touching something out reach, they are longing for something without being able to reach it. They are trying to put pieces together that do not fit together.
This new body of works also suggests a cinematographic approach to the artist’s images, similar to movie stills. Lily Wong immersed herself extensively in Wong Kar Wai’s films, their light, and the way they depict the city of Hong Kong, where her father was born. Her father passed on to his daughter a nostalgic vision of the island, which he left at a very young age, a vision probably idealized and fabricated from fragmented memories. This nostalgia for Hong Kong, which Lily Wong ended up making her own, sends her back to this quest for the unattainable, as Wong Kar Wai’s films project her to the threshold of her origins, without being able to appropriate them completely.
Recurring symbolic elements in Lily Wong’s work form the narrative thread between all her paintings: the jade pendant, the tree, the rope, the moon, the color red. They create a visual ornamentation connecting one image to another.