Foundations, a new online fair curated by Artsy, spotlights fresh works from taste-making galleries known for supporting emerging artists. This year’s fair includes presentations from more than 100 galleries across four continents, featuring rising and under-recognised talents from across the globe.
For Foundations, Offshoot Arts presents ‘Piercing the Veil’ a group presentation which spotlights four female artists, from China, Japan, Taiwan and the UK, who explore notions of domesticity, femininity and identity in this engaging collection of drawings, paintings, photographs and textiles.
Offshoot Arts are firm supporters of female artists, and are committed to discovering upcoming global talent. We bring together four artists whose diverse practices offer insights and perspectives on the female experience, often intertwined with the influence of the natural world and reclaiming gendered domestic spaces. As the title suggests, these works signify a desire to challenge and transcend these preconceived notions, inviting viewers to delve beneath the surface and engage with the multifaceted complexities of these themes.
"Piercing the Veil" offers an exploration of societal expectations, stereotypes, or traditional roles associated with femininity and domesticity. ‘Feminized’ domestic spaces such as the kitchen, bathroom, private rather than public spaces, are depicted yet reclaimed. Shih’s white rabbit protagonist verges on the absurd, in ‘Room with Ming Vase’ the intricate interior of a bathroom is stitched in thread, with the rabbit sitting on the loo as a subversive stance; Catherine Lette’s disfigured and tumultuous female figures, upended and tangled, burst out of the confines of these domestic arenas. Hinting at transformation and transcendence, Yokoyama’s intricate drawings adopt animal protagonists and fictional creatures such as the phoenix to eclipse the confines of female experience. Ziqian Liu’s contemplative self-portraits radiate a sense of confidence, self-possession and elegant composure, controlling the narrative and the viewer’s gaze.
Catherine Lette’s malleable human figures reveal the joys, frustrations and absurdities of daily life whilst conveying the ability of art to mimic and satirise. Unbound by the rules of human embodiment they encourage the viewer to question conventions and allow for vagaries in meaning to arise. In often humorous depictions the artist tackles themes such as the empowerment of women, restrictions of motherhood and the burden of domesticity and social mores.
Lette combines references from across art history including the Renaissance, feminist, surrealist and contemporary art. She proposes that history reveals a constancy in human emotion even whilst the physical framework we live in changes. In her eyes the recent Pandemic was an example of this, showing that despite workplace advances women were overburdened by caring and domestic duties. The lockdowns focussed Lette’s interest towards domesticity and the complex nature of containment at home, with its binary outcome of safety and risk.
Lette makes drawings, collages and paintings rooted in personal experience, using images of her own figure and those around her to imagine a world in which our bodies might physically reflect our states of mind. In her paintings bodies get themselves in a literal twist whilst surrounding objects, framing choices and artwork titles wield agency in the alternate world that the artwork exists within. Lette’s process is experimental, valuing play and balancing learnt activities with chance encounters, allowing instinct and making to lead the way. Her practice weaves together diaristic elements of her life as a mother, artist and wife with imaginative propositions. Her process often mimics its outcome, combining observational drawing and painting with the tearing, cutting and recomposing of images. She sees the body as a fluid entity projected upon from the outside, experienced from the inside and strives for her artworks to reflect this duality.
IIzumi Yokoyama’s imagery envelops the viewer into a mystical and often surreal world that celebrates our deep connection and appreciation of the natural world. Through a highly detailed process of painstaking drawing, Yokoyama’s unique scenes transcend the medium. They contemplate the human condition, explored through animal protagonists that capture human emotions and struggles. The artist describes visions, dreams and emotions that she harbours in her mind, until the image appears strong and powerful enough to translate onto paper. Her process is intuitive, organic and a meditative evolution of thoughts and feelings that connect with her experience of the world. They appear like apparitions, capturing fleeting moments that offer a glimpse of ambiguous narrative or otherworldly event that re open to interpretation. The scenes are ephemeral and reveal a familiar yet enigmatic perception of the natural world. A thread of mysticism connects the works, suggesting that our relationship with the environment is something intangible, deeply felt and constantly evolving.
Izumi Yokoyama is a multi-media artist born in Niigata, Japan in 1980. She graduated with an MFA from San Francisco Art Institute and currently lives and works in Taos, New Mexico. She has exhibited in numerous exhibitions in the US, including Harwood Museum of Art in Taos and Taos Art Museum in New Mexico.
The protagonist in Shih’s practice is the white rabbit – a fictional anthropomorphic character with associations of Lewis Carroll’s character in the book ‘Alice in Wonderland’, where the rabbit leads Alice down the rabbit hole and into a surreal parallel universe. It is through often absurd and humorous scenes that Shih investigates ideas of the mundane and domestic, juxtaposed with imaginative vistas where the rabbit finds itself. Shih describes these works as ‘embroidery-drawings’ and she pushes the boundaries of textiles and drawing. The complexity of the stitching reflects the dynamic strokes of a pen and hand-drawn movement.
The artist states: "During the past five years, my core practice has been about the investigation in expanded drawing with the medium of threads and fabric. I converse my thoughts and findings of what is drawing and what consists of the nature of drawings with stitching lines. The way each stitched line is introduced onto the fabric serves a purpose, and is manipulated by me in order to narrate some form of mark making nature. My work builds surreal narratives that are composed between reality and my pseudo self taking the form as a fictional character.”
Ziqian Liu uses the self portrait to investigate the coexistence between humans and nature. She combines often abstract representations of her body in carefully staged images with plants, fruit and flora that convey a sense of balance, peace and quiet contemplation. Her face is deliberately hidden in order for the viewer to identify and project their sense of self when viewing her work. The image allows for a multitude of interpretations, highlighting notions of identity, femininity, the natural world and our place within it. The balance achieved in her images alludes to the view that there is an equality and symbiosis between nature and mankind, and she strives for a state of harmony and beauty to reinforce this idea.
Liu’s innovative juxtaposition of the human body, mirrors, plants and fruit is often humorous and absurd. She invites the viewer into an interior world that presents the female as soft, delicate with an inner strength. The mirror represents the idealized world she wishes to live in, and the integration of the ‘outside world’ is a reminder of the imbalance in reality, and the artist’s wish to ‘adhere to the order and principles in our hearts’. Her imagery appears intimate, capturing a moment in time that is private and portrays a sense of calm and control. The female figure is the protagonist of this inner world, encouraging the world to pause, contemplate and to pursue an existence of balance and peace.
The artist is born in China in 1990 and is based in Shanghai. She graduated from the University of Technology in Sydney in 2015, and has been focused on her photography practice since graduating.