There has always been a tight co-existence between human beings and animals. Although this relationship has gone through various changes with the elapse of time, the aggressive human-centeredness has remained. This exhibition is curated around the theme of “animals,” attempting to return all life back to an equal starting point. The zoo, originally a space where animals were forced to survive in discord within its limited surroundings, is transformed into a beautiful and magical Utopia through the hands of the two artists. Through the perspective and creativity of two animal lovers Chen Yi-Ru and Lucia Heffernan, an original and pure dialogue that links humans with animals is born.
Based in Tainan, artist Chen Yi-Ru was born in 1984. Her works have always centered around the theme of animals. Due to her humble attitude towards the constantly damaged land and the acknowledgment of animals being restricted in suppressed environments, Chen selects images from her keen observations of daily life and makes them into works with an otherworldly quality. The works displayed in this exhibition include her previous The Ark, Sport Park, and Walking at Night Series as well as the new Planet Series, with animals as the recurring context. The new Planet Series is an extension of the Walking at Night Series, focusing on nocturnal animals with glittering eyes that shine with bodily movement. The animals move as planets or compose the shining night light as the animals come to an abrupt stop. Using bright and lively colors, Chen Yi-Ru creates familiar and dreamlike scenes of daily life that attempt to bring the viewer back to the simple beginning between human beings and the environment, continuing to question the “authenticity” of the world while using creative methods to express opinions on the status quo of society. The colors used in the works are vibrant and warm, piecing together a unique creative method with flowing lines. With detailed inspection, the viewer will notice that the elements that appear sweet and pretty under her brushstrokes seem to be trying to escape from the framework.
Lucia Heffernan was born in 1966 and moved to the US from Tainan. She specializes in portraying affable and funny animals in human situations, hoping to give animals a voice and personality. By imagining what animals might do if put in human situations, Lucia uses her paint brushes to shine a spotlight on their innocence and raw instincts. This collision between animal and human sensibilities creates a whimsical, theatrical, and often humorous world that viewers can relate to on an emotional level. Like many artists, Lucia began as a representational artist who focused on capturing her subjects true to life. Having developed a strong technical foundation, Lucia has evolved her style to incorporate a narrative. Therefore, her works depict all sorts of animals, such as a rhinoceros soaking in a warm Matcha bath, a black warrior rabbit with a carrot as its weapon, an explorer cat holding a magnifying glass, and an English Bulldog dressed as a mermaid. Lucia wants the viewer to recognize and relate to the subjects and situations of her work as snapshots of daily life, portrayed by animals. Lucia’s works stand out because the animals in her works remain representational, instead of illustrative, creating the illusion that animals can, in fact, do human things. In this exhibition, her new Zodiac Series uses gold leaf to give the works a festive symbol while set in an exotic eastern red background. This series of works are created with Western painting techniques and is infused with Eastern quality.
The two artists, one from Tainan and the other from the US, create an overlapping fantasy space of animals and humanity with images that are composed through different cultures and styles. The works express and evoke the subject-matter of the relationship between human beings and animals, hoping that the viewer will be able to start from the artists’ perspective and gain resonance through their artistic vocabulary. Also, Art Influence hopes that works of this exhibition will enable viewers to sense the happiness and pure quality of the artists in this complex age of disarray and anxiety.