A New LA Art Exhibit Explores Pleasure, Pain and the Feminine Form
The vibrant, erotic and paradoxical paintings of Kristen Liu-Wong
At a time when it’s completely possible to spend your weekend at the beach and return home infected with a deadly virus, we’ve all been dealing with the existential dilemma of finding comfort without consequence. Pretty much anything you’d typically associate with summer — weddings, festivals, day drinking, even going for a jog — has forced us all to contend with the prospective human cost of a few minutes of respite.
Enter L.A.-based artist Kristen Liu-Wong.
Her vibrant works of provocative heroines situated in lavish interiors have been commissioned by InsideHook for stories about about feline erotica and the decorated history of the MILF, and in her latest solo exhibition in L.A., titled “Futile Fruits,” Liu-Wong delves into a paradox we all face: the seemingly inextricable connection between pleasure and pain.
Earlier this week, we caught up with Liu-Wong to learn more about her latest works, see how she’s been spending quarantine, and ask, “How does one even enjoy looking at art anymore?”
InsideHook: We’ve all gone through a major shift in our day-to-day routine. How has the new normal impacted your process and subject matter?
Kristen Liu-Wong: It’s been a pretty tough year, although I am lucky in that I can work from home, I have a home and my health, and I still have some jobs and projects that haven’t been canceled (though everything that hasn’t been canceled has been delayed or scaled back). It’s been incredibly difficult to stay inspired or to feel like what you’re doing has any worth (both economically and socially) when there are so many huge things happening in the world that can make painting and worrying about art feel frivolous. Artists are often inspired by their surroundings and experiences of the world, so when you have to stay in the same place every day, doing the same things, it can be very challenging to keep your work fresh and not feel like you’re in some hellish Groundhog Day. To combat that, I’ve been allowing myself a lot more self-care periods than I typically do, and reading has been a huge help, both emotionally and creatively.
Animals play a significant role in your work. Can you elaborate on their symbolism in the never-ending pursuit of human desire?
In the context of my current show, animals act as an embodiment and representation of our own more feral and animalistic qualities, and they can also act as physical manifestations of the emotional ideas I’m trying to represent. The oozing slugs crawling over a woman’s body act as a symbol of the wet, creeping lust that takes over in moments of sexual heat. the bloated frog that gorges itself on flies echoes the bloated woman gorging herself on noodles, the slithering water snake hints at the hidden dangers involved when you fall in lust or in love…
Where are your go-to spots for food, drinks, hedonism and responsibly distant socializing?
For food I really like El Zarape for tacos, the Shrimp Lover (for pre-COVID times), Speranza and House of Pies. My favorite bar was Good Luck Bar, which closed last year, but I also like Jumbo’s Clown Room, Tiki-Ti Cocktail Lounge and Club Tee Gee. Damn I miss going out! As far as responsible social-distancing options, my backyard has been the obvious choice, but the LA County Botanical Gardens allow you to visit as long as you schedule a time slot by buying tickets online and wear a mask.
How does a gallery opening work now that we’re not gathering indoors? If I can’t make the show, how can I support the arts and buy one of your paintings?
The openings that I’ve been in this year have been virtual openings, so the artist or gallery will share a special walk through of the show that will then be shared via social media, and many galleries are accepting viewing appointments for people to make. I’ve also heard some galleries have started to do open-air openings if they have outdoor space, but that is rarer. To buy a painting, people can just email me and I can show them what I have available and then get them in touch with the corresponding gallery.
Futile Fruits • Kristen Liu-Wong
New Image Art Gallery, 20 August 2020 to 12 September 2020
7920 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046
By appointment only: (323) 654-2192
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