Natural Social Distancing
The past year, for many reasons, has forced us to confront our relationship with nature. This consideration has been within the context of a global pandemic during which the phrase ‘social distancing’ became normal and more painfully, familiar. Cacti have been the subjects of Jingyi Wang’s paintings for 5 years, yet with developing social changes and world health concerns at large, her artworks have taken on varying identities respectively. In the instance of ‘Natural Social Distancing’ at Four You Gallery, the cacti take anthropomorphic form. The compositions are that of traditional portraits or busts, eerie in their animation and sobering in their directness.
Each portrait is rendered with sharp focus and pictorial realism despite the uncanny subjects. The artist’s style is surreal, yet she challenges the viewer with naturalistic depictions of familiar forms. Distressing is the subjects exterior, yet the audience may feel a conflicting comfort in their recognisable form. These are images we have seen before, yet now they are shrouded in the defensive spines of cacti. Intrigue and unease arise correspondingly. Do they cacti act as a concealing shell, or are they the subjects’ true identity? This series of paintings asks you to question what lies beneath visible surface.
Ultimately, these paintings address the relationship between humans and nature. This is an association that has been at the forefront of Wang’s mind over the past year or so. The artist demonstrates the fragility of the world on a larger scale with an image of a balloon like globe deflated by the spine of the anthropomorphic cacti. Wang paints with such lightness and movement, the globe looks as if it is collapsing before one’s eyes. Although the subjects are striking main focuses, the expansive landscapes are radiant, otherworldly and seem to deny the possibility of human existence. Threatening but hopeful, Jingyi Wang’s paintings will provoke an awed respect for her skill, gracefulness and humbling attitude towards nature.