Thoughts on the show by Sarah Faux
Capsule Shanghai is pleased to present Right behind your eyes, a group show curated by Sarah Faux, featuring works by Felipe Baeza, Haley Josephs, Jordan Kasey, Doron Langberg, River Lin, Diana Lozano, Martin Wong, Tao Siqi, Yan Xinyue and Yao Cong. The show is on view from June 29 until August 15, 2019.
Right behind your eyes pushes us into the intimate space of another's body, past the external realm and into an oily mess of pores, lip liner, migrating hands and private thoughts. Through painting, video and performance, ten artists deal with 'attachment, quietness, our facades and tender insides'.
On eyes: I'll know someone for years and still not remember their eye color. And I'm a painter, a color nerd, so I wonder why these colors don't stick. Eyes are supposedly windows to the soul, but "the self" emanates through so many other means - our skin and scars, what we choose to say or keep hidden.
Haley Josephs' figures close their eyes and connect with each other psychically or through streams of bubbles in the wind. Yan Xinyue's characters are lost in their smartphones; their earthly identities becoming subsumed into digital fantasies. For River Lin's on-site live performance Invisible Portraits*, the artist will draw images of gallery goers while blindfolded. Sensing a person's presence without sight, these emotive drawings connect artist and viewer through a moment of empathy.
How do you really know someone?: Through tracing your eyes along his edges while he rests in your lap, your hand moving a pen across a page in unison. You spot a mole you'd never noticed and three little hairs sprouting beside it. Drawing from life is an act of intimate knowledge.
Pioneering Chinese-American painter Martin Wong once painted portraits of passersby on city streets. In Top Cat, a portrait at the heart of this show, Wong's tattooed young man lounges in confident repose. The painter's gritty surfaces teeter on kitsch while unearthing raw vulnerability.
Painted from observation, Doron Langberg's fluttering brushstrokes curve around edges of bodies in motion, shivering with constant breath. By contrast, Jordan Kasey's charcoal drawings of stone faces gaze blankly at the viewer, their inner lives palpable through animated expressions but concealed by hardened exteriors. Felipe Baeza's portraits are embroidered and sanded surfaces, like broken skin peeled, smoothed and repaired again through the artist's touch, as his hovering figures linger within deep fields of color.
On skin and adornment: I have scars from things I don't remember and holes in my ears I made on purpose, so I can hang little things through them. Skin bleeds, heals, and above all absorbs.
Tiny stud earrings puncture the latex stems of Diana Lozano's floral sculpture. Botany, so often used by humans to decorate and signal beauty, is now personified with its own rituals of adornment. In Tao Siqi's small tender paintings, varied objects and body parts flash like glimpses into memories. Yao Cong's video Under Blue delivers close views of makeup being applied to skin; so close as to disorient - or reorient - our attention. It is in this precarious and porous zone of edges that we encounter the first layer of one's personhood, everything that's stored Right behind your eyes.
*River Lin's live performance will be held at Capsule from 3 to 6 pm on June 29-30.
Special thanks to the artists and galleries who have loaned the works and supported the exhibition.