San Francisco, CA — Heron Arts is pleased to announce the solo exhibition “EIDOLON VESSEL” by Lauren YS. The exhibition will be on view at Heron Arts until August 21st. Known for her signature style of hyper-chroma Sci-Fi futurism and Asian iconography, “Vessel” is a meditation on loss, heritage, links between women, isolation, death, and identity. The opening reception for “EIDOLON VESSEL” is Saturday, July 10th, 2020 at 5:30 pm, with a panel discussion from 5:30-6:30 pm and the opening reception from 7-10 pm. It is free and open to the public. A book release celebrating the exhibition will be held on the evening of the opening.
The artist’s largest and most meticulously planned body of work to date, “Eidolon Vessel,” refers to the myriad physical vessels depicted in their paintings, but also the mind and body as vessels for trans-generational storytelling. Rendered in the artist’s recognizable style of hyper-chroma Sci-Fi futurism and Asian iconography, “Vessel” is a meditation on loss, heritage, links between women, isolation, death, and identity.
The show’s title image, “Witch Doctor,” depicts an imaginary proprietor of some celestial market stall—Lauren’s rendition of a mythic sage-femme archetype. Inspired by freak shows, cabinets of curiosity, animal folklore, and witchcraft bazaars, the elements in “Witch Doctor” range from shrunken heads to lava lamps, contrasting the numinous with the prosaic, displaying the arcane and kitsch in equal part. The items and iconography from all regions suggest a kind of patchwork theology, suggesting the Witch Doctor is a wanderer of the world, searching for meaning, building it themselves. The wooden cutout paintings of characters enclosed inside bottles act as a visual synecdoche for “Witch Doctor,” microcosms of a larger macrocosm.
Throughout these paintings, slink the hybrid characters typical of Lauren’s work: spider-women, reptilians, tiger-maidens—all avatars meant to embody themes of split identity. Yet these paintings see a shift from the hyper-hybrid-sexuality of Lauren’s previous work into a softer meditation on heritage and personhood, contrasting the attractive and repulsive to navigate the anxiety and sense of otherness pervading their Asian-American identity. They expound on their work with the trope of the transgressive, monstrous human with a new focus.
Much of the work in “Eidolon Vessel” explores the experience of losing their grandmother and, with her, the strongest link to Lauren’s Chinese heritage. The artist channels the aesthetics of traditional Chinese paintings into psychedelic, astral dreamscapes, illustrating stories their grandmother told from her childhood growing up in southern China. They paint items from their grandmother’s house and invents an alien language resembling distorted Chinese, reflecting the anxiety of lost communication.
“Eidolon Vessel” also sees Lauren’s first foray into installation: an interactive woodwork piece that continues their narrative in complex moving layers. The triple-faced sculpture evokes structures designed for communion with ancestors and brings Lauren’s two-dimensional characters into interweaving reciprocals, lending a new, intricately layered level of storytelling to their work.