Meeting a new person is not often as life-changing an experience as it is depicted in the movie “(500) Days of Summer,” when the main character, Tom, meets the woman he will fall in love with, Summer. But, on a rare occasion, it is: you hold eye contact for a moment too long. You both smile. You swear there is some sort of spark and, for a moment, it seems your life has become a rom-com cliche. Yes, in fact, you are sure that you have found your Summer, and, like the befuddled Tom, can’t seem to shake the connection you have with this new acquaintance.
Walking into the Silk Road Art Gallery, I had no idea that I would experience five of these strange meetings. When I sat down to discuss the aptly titled exhibit, “New Acquaintances,” with gallery owner Liwen Ma, she explained that the exhibition is intended to embody art historian Ernst Gombrich’s idea that “There is no such thing as art. There are only artists.” The goal of “New Acquaintances” is to showcase the five featured artists’ various cultural and stylistic backgrounds through their work. And this is exactly the effect this exhibition has, forging an emotional connection between the artists and the individual observer through the human experiences captured in each painting.
New Haven resident David Chorney introduces his art in a particularly self-actualized way. He used a dropped paint methodology to splatter faces on canvas from above and then shaded them with charcoal; each face seems to reflecting an authenticity that comes with the inability to make corrections. This style seems to introduce an air of haunted innocence as each face stands in solitude, with all of its original splattered pattern standing out against the white canvas.
Luyi Xu ART ’15 presents a unique series of pieces called the “Study of Men,” which challenges the sexual power struggle between female models and male artists. In her work, she asserts her own control by challenging the dominating attitude of the male model and painting him with a realistically delicate humanity. The male bodies she portrays are highlighted in white to maintain their purity; she simultaneously creates contrast by darkening other features of the body, such as the face and groin.
Julia Coash, professor of studio art and art history at Albertus Magnus College, chooses to reveal herself through an emphasis on her own brush strokes, drawing attention to their languid curves and sharp edges. This use of the technique “pentimento,” incorporating marks from lower levels in paint, in her collection “Rum Jungle,” reveals her individual artistic process and helps create her world of abstract animations of nature and light.
Moments spent in Shen Dawei’s landscape series, which features views from the peaks of mountains and the undeveloped countryside, are stories of travel and history presented through the tangible harmony of traditional Chinese water paintings. He wishes to “celebrate the beauty of and grandeur of nature only lightly touched by human hands,” in connection with his own tranquil lifestyle.
Joan Cho makes use of watercolor, channeling her experiences in nature to realistically depict the ocean. She perfectly captures the delicate ebb and flow of the water through swelling ink tones and bright whites and golds.
New Acquaintances represents a connected community that the Silk Road Gallery hopes to foster in New Haven, and offers a variety of pieces that challenge our relationship with nature, culture and our own selves. So here’s to a future filled with the excitement of new acquaintances, some of which you may meet within the walls of the Silk Road Art Gallery.