painting of woman looking out window

October 7, 2023 - October 28, 2023

Jolene Lai

Secret Garden (Gallery IV)

Opening Reception with the Artist(s): Saturday, October 7, 2023 6:00-10:00pm

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Thinkspace Projects presents:

JOLENE LAI
‘Secret Garden’
(Gallery IV)

Gallery IV holds Jolene Lai’s ‘Secret Garden’, a collection of oil paintings and drawings that seek to ignite curiosity about the hidden stories we all carry within ourselves. What kind of magical landscape gets unfolded when you gaze out through the window of your soul?

“The unbearable tossing and turning from insomnia in the dead of the night led me to gradually sit up. I got out of bed and walked to the window in the room. The still night was immediately interrupted by flying insects spiraling towards the light from the street lamps outside of my window. From across the street, a flicker of light from another house drew my attention. I could see the silhouette of a woman, a willowy shadow framed with hues of bright tangerine illuminated from behind her. I saw her light up a cigarette and caught a fleeting glimpse of her face in the glow of the flickering flame. She rested her arms on the window sill and began to casually run her fingers through her seemingly tousled hair.

I watched her deliberately take long drags on her cigarette, as if she was sucking in the marrow of life. My mind was transfixed by this enigmatic figure that was becoming more familiar with each inhalation, hers and mine. The smoke drifted up into the night air and I traced it with my eyes and imagined that they were carrying along all of her secrets with it. Secrets that I longed to know.

I stood there for a long time, etching her contours into my mind, until finally she stubbed out her cigarette and turned away from the window. I gazed until her silhouette was a blur and the window turned into another gaping hole that was interwoven with the darkness of the street.

Everything was still again, lest for the insects that were still hurling themselves against the burning bulbs. I laid in bed, glancing at a window that now framed a lonely crescent in the sky. I tried to retrace her shape and for a brief moment seized a quick glimpse of her face in my mind again, before that fragment of her faded away. I knew that I would never forget her, the stranger in the night.”

About Jolene Lai:
After studying painting at Lasalle-SIA College of the Arts in Singapore, Jolene studied graphic design at UCLA and spent a year working at movie-poster design house, The Refinery Creative, before returning to focus on fine art.

She works primarily with oil on canvas or mixed media on water color paper. With bold use of color, shape and intricate detail, she creates images with a seductive aesthetic and subject matter that weaves in emotions of whimsy, melancholy, irony and absurdity.

Lai seeks to engage her audience in works that are approachable, newly imagined spaces that the viewer is invited to explore on their own terms.

Lai is inspired by everything from mythologies, Asian culture, and children’s stories, to fashion editorials, cityscapes, and illustration. She is always seeking new “sets” and stages for her characters and their outlandish encounters. Aesthetically, her work combines the beautiful and the grotesque with the quiet and the excessive in fluid and unexpected ways, just as innocence in her imagery tends to be shadowed by the suggestion of something sinister or dark. Her previous work has included strangely faceted, marionette-like figures, faceless characters, doubles, automatons, and stylized doll-like girls. Her imagery remains universally accessible in its psychologically motivated nuance.