Alvin Ong: In My Head

Various Small Fires Seoul

Oct. 28, 2023 ~ Dec. 23, 2023

Various Small Fires proudly presents In My Head, a solo exhibition by Alvin Ong, marking the artist's Seoul debut and first exhibition with the gallery. One of the most exciting young figurative painters in Asia, Ong is known for his intimate paintings that capture quotidian moments in surreal bodily compositions, playfully combining diverse visual vocabularies alongside his own lived experience of hybridity and distance.

Consisting of 70 self-portraits, the artist has composed a visual symphony; a monumental and immersive installation reflecting the artist's ongoing interests in the physicality of the body. We are taken on a very personal journey of nostalgia, longing, and intimacy. The vocabulary of the mundane has been transformed into a site of spectacle, a cabinet of curiosities through which audiences are implicated as flaneur and voyeur. Each work is intimately bound up with the artist's memories and imaginations, unfurling through a fertile variety of impulses and desires, as they are edited, layered, and finally gathered into place.

Spanning the entirety of the gallery wall space, the overarching grid references the social mediums through which we connect and interact with one another; such as Instagram and various dating apps. The grid is a powerful unifying force, but also an ephemeral, transformative apparatus. Individual canvases function as windows, mirrors, frames, screens and filters. Venetian blinds and mirrored reflections simultaneously obscure and reveal their subjects in equal measure. Faces approach the edges of the canvas, its forms tethered to, contained, or supported by the frames which constitute them.

Experiments into colour and various formal compositional processes are laid out side by side, and appear to yield yet more ideas and unexpected results. Jadeite greens and lacquer reds are set against dusty pink hues and sombre blues, evoking both natural and artificial light. Figures appear to dissolve and retreat, individually isolated, weaving in and out of one another. 

Also scattered across the show are intimate snapshots of existence; nights out on the dance floor, chess in a pub, a casual hook-up, a toilet mirror, a blackout, a local haunt, café and cigarettes, a solo violin, a dance, shower, and an embrace. These vignettes contain an anxious, searching, yearning quality in them, as a cast of recurrent characters journey to discover one another and encounter themselves in the process. Oscillating between desire and restlessness, they are coolly detached. Their eyes are often downcast. They rarely meet our gaze, so we are never implicated for watching too closely. 

In juxtaposing the eccentric against the typical, and the pathological next to the normative, the artist has laid bare the multiple prisms of existence around us and within us. In so doing, In My Head reinterprets the act of "finding oneself" in all its paradoxical glory; A reality of attachment, multiple attachment, or attachment at a distance; one that is complex and multiple but does not cease to be a mode of belonging. 

Alvin Ong (b.1988, Singapore, lives and works in Singapore and London) received his BFA from the Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford, UK (2016) and MFA from the Royal College of Art, London, UK (2018). Ong was awarded a residency in 2017 with the Royal Drawing School, as well as the 2018 Chadwell Award. His works have been exhibited at the Singapore Art Museum; Asian Civilizations Museum, Singapore; Peranakan Museum, Singapore; Northampton Contemporary, UK; National Portrait Gallery, UK; and Royal Academy of Arts, UK. His works are collected by the ILHAM Gallery, Malaysia, X Museum, Beijing, China; the Ingram Collection, UK, and the Victoria & Albert Museum (Print Collection), London, UK.

출처: Various Small Fires

* 아트바바에 등록된 모든 이미지와 글의 저작권은 각 작가와 필자에게 있습니다.

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