Thinkspace (Los Angeles) is pleased to present Play, featuring new works by Jolene Lai in the project room. Lai’s work disarmingly extracts visual magic from the mundane repetitions of daily life, and from the familiar narratives that lurk in our shared consciousness. Like adult fairy tales, the artist transforms known situations from memory and the every day, building playful symbolic narratives through free association. Lai transports the viewer through a whimsical cast of characters and symbols, at times absurd and at others tragicomic. Her work often feels like a waking dream as the familiar is uncomfortably amplified through strange poetry.
The artist works primarily in oil and acrylic on canvas, or mixed media on watercolor paper, building visual tensions with highly detailed and dimensional areas set against moments of graphic flatness. This push and pull in her technical execution aptly reflects the thematic oppositions inherent in her work. They combine the known and the unfamiliar with seamless ease. An aggregate of contrariety, her works are hauntingly of this world and yet derived from a disquieting beyond. They emotively reveal the complex facets of shared human anxieties, desires and musings through surreal imagery that proverbially cuts to the more foreboding recesses of the familiar.
In Play, the artist will present five new works in oil and acrylic on canvas. The imagery is inspired by a nostalgic revisitation of childhood themes and toys, and features a female character faced with adult situations and impulses that are mediated through the play things and fantasies of childhood. Just as the impulses of nostalgia are haunting, bittersweet and at times traumatic, so too is her beautiful escapism. Stolen hearts, flighty birds, larger than life friends and assailants, broken faceless loves and identities – Lai’s work tugs at our seams.