press release

Featuring paintings and works on paper, RePlacement explores various approaches to personal historiography and notions of the past. The works by five young artists, Hu Xiaoyuan, Peter Gerakaris, Li Li, Mike Lowery, and Qiu Xiaofei, question the fixity of memories and the logic of time through comedic, fantastic, and bittersweet renditions of reality. These works invite us to experience the artists' very private and personal memories, which are treated with a consideration that reflects a simultaneous desire to preserve and linger in the past, as well as an urge to reinterpret, challenge, and subvert the power of what came before.

For Harbin native Hu Xiaoyuan, the everyday is significant. Her training in design at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing is evident in the Spots series, Pointillist depictions of transport vehicles, sexual anatomy, machine guns, and cute animals that resemble color-blindness tests administered at a doctor's office. In spite of their clinical form, the provocative subject matters of the Spot paintings elicit a second closer look. The subjects of Hu Xiaoyuan's paintings are associated with meaningful and positive memories from disparate points throughout her youth and adult life.

New York based artist Peter Gerakaris paints Rorschach-esque silhouettes of the flowing, beautiful toxic plants that inhabit his native New Hampshire in an attempt to reconcile the curious contradiction of beauty and toxicity. His rural childhood engendered a deep respect for nature, and the Toxiganic Series is a mediation between the internal world, his current urban surroundings and a nostalgic reverence for nature. Gradients of paint and graphic outlines suggest negative afterimages experienced by the retina on a sunny day. The influence of Modernism as well as psychedelic retro album-cover designs is apparent in his use of color saturation and improvised lines, which operate the way that a jazz musician interweaves riffs in a solo piece.

The figures in Li Li's paintings, with their heavy-lidded eyes and plastic doll physiques, create a striking contrast to the violent acts in which they are engaged. She depicts vicious rage using flying shards of shredded-yet bloodless-flesh in "A Person Falls, A Shadow Appears," while the female figure smiles distantly, unfazed by her own imminent destruction. The same blank expression finds its way into "Just A Cut," where a young female administers a decisive snip to her own head, revealing a tuft of stuffing at the base of her neck. Mixing cynicism and imagination, Li Li's brand of satire speaks to the angst of growing up and the turbulent transformations that take place in the passage into adulthood. Li Li lives and works in Chengdu, Sichuan.

Thomas M. Lowery, a Washington DC based artist, creates works inspired by his collection of found photographs and recently antiquated items like library catalog cards, ornate book endpapers, and textiles. These artifacts are the basis of his illustrations of historical events, which are reassembled into fictional yet credible situations that serve as caricatures of interpersonal relations. His elaborate scrolls unfold in an absurd stream of consciousness that chronicles events in his life from the past few years, including aspects of his married life. But like the gangly Skeleton Kids in his drawings that can only speak from behind their masks, the artist's true sentiments are obscured by their complexity, and what is romantic or naïve can also be interpreted as funny or depressing.

Qiu Xiaofei, a graduate of the Beijing Central Academy of Fine Arts, takes his inspiration from publications, photographs, and everyday objects that made up the landscape of a bygone Socialist-era China. His careful reconstruction of an old black and white family photo album in the Photo Album series places the act of memory-making on the front stage by laying out the album cover to cover, exposing each individual page in its tattered, imperfectly preserved entirety. The set of small paintings depicts the slow ravages of time, but also demonstrates a resistance to the frenetic pace of development that characterizes urban China today, and suggests that connections to the past cannot be unraveled so easily.

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Hu Xiaoyuan, Peter Gerakaris, Li Li, Mike Lowery, Qiu Xiaofei