In a continuation of their mission, the relatively recent addition to the New York art scene, Li Tang community, recently concluded its retrospective exhibition “Echoes of Home”. The two-week show, featuring 27 emerging to established Asian artists, was shown in unison at the RIVAA (Roosevelt Island Visual Art Association) Gallery.
The show is a masterful foray for Li Tang Gallery to take on the white-walled physical space of a gallery. Coming about during the pandemic, Li Tang community has spent the last three years developing programming and exhibitions within the virtual sphere, engaging its New York and international audiences through the digital forms we become accustomed to during our isolation.
What we witness as we walk room by room, is what it means to be a part of the Asian diaspora relocating to the United States. Under the curatorial direction of community founder Webson Ji and co-curator Huixian Dong, these works of art harmonize, not only in color, style, and form but as they coalesce into a portrait of the modern lived experience of these artists and their communities.
In true Li Tang style, the exhibition is not just diverse in perspectives but in mediums. Paintings, sculpture, design, video, and more fill the walls and rooms of RIVAA. Immediately striking is Zhiheng “Leo” Gong’s “mEAT”. Bold red blocks of wood spiral forth from a central wall of the gallery into our space. Catching our eye and forcing us to rethink how we inhabit the space, the piece channels Gong’s signature immersive style of abstract deconstruction that results in an almost organic architectural form.
Weihui Lu, in contrast, engages with a more traditional medium, acrylic on canvas. This large scale work feels abstract upon first encounter until we notice the familiar. Swirling blues separate the light and dark of her canvas like cascading water. There is struggle and solace, beauty and turmoil, all encapsulated in the brushstrokes of “Kaaterskill Falls” that bring together the physical landscapes with the psychological ones we inhabit on a daily basis.
With two smaller artworks within the gallery, Ami Park adds materiality to the exhibition with her fiber-based practice. “Fragment” and “Lips” feel like we are peering through a microscope of the cotton ropes and fabrics twisting tighter and tighter together. She is using her own language of embroidery to read the vibrations of existence, the invisible connections that are viscerally felt between our human minds, and how these form our perceptions of the self.
The act of looking is challenged yet again in Sun Young Kang’s “Impossibly Connected”. We are staring at this piece removed from its setting, unable to feel the dimensionality of the form. Yet, there is a palpable tension. The artist has stitched their own hair into the printed photograph mounted to the wood panel. The strain of these delicate strands juxtaposed with the dense weight of the block leaves us uneasy, awaiting an inevitable snapping of their taught forms that never comes.
“Landscape: Lens 3” is a silkscreen image atop a small circular mirror constructed by Doi Kim. The piece forces us to examine the act of looking. In gray, the anatomical features of the eye are sketched across the reflective surfaces. The faint color forces the viewer’s eye to continually change focus, from the intricate drawing back to an image of themselves in the act of staring. Kim is asking us to place ourselves back into the mainstream narratives, understanding our part and ability to challenge them. She asks us to truly see ourselves and those around us with greater awareness and empathy.
Each work delves deeper into the physical and emotionally lived experiences of these members of the Asian diaspora. They offer new portals for others to understand their plights and find companionship in shared struggles. They are manifesting their unique journeys, their influence, and the importance of their presence.
The show is a testament to not only Li Tang’s ability to achieve their mission to amplify the creative voices of the present-day Asian diaspora but how they have created a community. Bringing together artists, fellow galleries, and art enthusiasts, “Echoes of Home” proves Li Tang community is more than a platform for artists but a space for them to find a sense of belonging, a new home.
Exhibition is currently on view at www.litanggallery.com.
Review by Shannon Permenter
Shannon Permenter is a freelance writer and art historian based in Arizona. After completing her Masters in History & Theory of Contemporary Art from the San Francisco Art Institute she has channeled her passion for the arts into a career helping artists, curators, and nonprofits share their work with the world.