Read my new exhibition review “AND, OR, NOT: Vivian Chiu’s Bodies of Art at FLXST Contemporary” in the October 2023 issue of the Whitehot Magazine of Contemporary Art. Click on the link below:
By Stephen Wozniak
October 14, 2023
2251 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60616
Telephone: (773) 800-1470
AND, OR, NOT
September 23 – October 30, 2023
After I walk between the redbrick walls of FLXST Contemporary’s A-Side gallery, I stop to face a cadre of free-floating bodies against its sunlit black background. They are long, rippling, elegant forms wrought from lathe-made cherry and poplar wood by the deft hand of artist Vivian Chiu. They seem inevitable in some ways, like they’ve been waiting for watchers to amble through and give them the once-over. That’s because they’re likely to look back – even engage – or, perhaps, upend your very perspective on what and who they might be. While a cursory glance may establish them as family to the modern anthropomorphic sculpture of Brâncuși, Asawa’s biomorphic screen forms, or even ancient Hindu temple columns, their mission and effect feel quite different within our dutifully aroused social and political awareness, which has been profoundly reactivated in recent years.
An interesting and unassuming piece featured in Chiu’s exhibition is Fan #1. Made from same-sized, almost-mitotic, connected spheres of cherry wood, the units are simply quadrisected, slid, joined, and unfinished. It stands on a table, its base and top cut off in mid-stride, perhaps alluding to the end of unchecked growth or the limit of its form and the content of its expression. Two other works that I particularly love are Pagoda and Pagoda 2. Both split-turned and reassembled, like Chiu’s other works, this time one of the sculptures lies prone – unlike its namesake building – greatly loosening its show of strength, identity, and purpose. It’s as if Chiu is toppling state rule, raising and razing the roof of power dynamics that dominate cultural narratives, which even the most enlightened carry in them and execute inadvertently every day.
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