There’s no place like home or is there? Curator and co-founder of Sapar Contemporary, Nina Levant, asked four young female artists from around the globe to provide their interpretation of what home means to them. The resulting answer is an exhibition titled, Home as an Irrevocable Condition, that is on view at Sapar Contemporary through June 10th.
The title of the exhibition comes from the James Baldwin quote “Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.” The artists; Poonam Jain of India, Zsofia Schweger from Hungary and currently living in the U.K., Wyn-lyn Tan from Singapore and living in Norway, and Heeseop Yoon of Korea who is currently living in Brooklyn address the concept of home in distinct and diverse ways.
Heeseop Yoon’s complex line drawings explode off the gallery’s wall and spill onto the floor. Her “drawings” are made with black masking tape and can be two or three stories tall. Yoon’s process involves taking photographs of interior spaces devoid of people that she states are “jumbled and absent of figures, where time is ambiguous and everlasting.” Yoon believes, “the more one studies a view, the less accurate it becomes.” Yoon’s drawing is like an exploding storage closet. It’s that closet you have where you stuff everything when guests are coming over. The drawing is a jumble of clothing, musical instruments, dishes, tea cups, books, and furniture. We spent a good amount of time looking at this drawing and kept discovering objects that we either had stuffed in a closet now or had at one time.
Hungarian artist Zsofia Schweger who is now living in London, reminisces about her upbringing in Hungary. Her paintings are also devoid of figures and illustrate the interior of her childhood home. The paintings are painted with flat areas of pastel colors, the interiors are stark, depicting the general shape of the rooms and the furniture. There is a distinct lack of personal items in the paintings as if the occupants had suddenly left taking all of their belongings with them. This approach is reminiscent of the way our memories work. We remember the broad outlines of stories and places, but the details become blurred and faded.
Schweger states, “My recent work is linked to the idea that home is rooted in both space and time. If that holds true, then – with the passing of time – return to an old home is impossible. For me, nostalgia has proved to be productive. I’ve found that recognizing the impossibility of return or the fact that I feel no longer at home in an old home, has been helpful in determining where home is for me in the present.”
Wyn-Lyn Tan, who spent her youth in China and is now living in Norway, explores the connections between East and West in her paintings. Having grown up in the urban environment of Singapore, she nonetheless feels an affinity with the remote landscapes she observes in Norway. Tan studied traditional Chinese brush painting at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in Singapore and European contemporary painting at UiT The Arctic University of Norway.
Tan says she has a “fascination with remote natural landscapes and how they connect across time and culture” she adds “I find a resonance in the vastness seen in the North, with the elusive concept of emptiness in Chinese landscape paintings.” We can see these connections in her paintings and as a metaphor for her search for “home.” Her long acrylic landscape painting impressed us with the spontaneity and confidence of the brushwork. It captures the alluring, remote and mysterious Nordic landscape while paying homage to traditional Chinese painting.
Make sure to walk all the way to the back of the gallery to see Poonam Jain’s installation. As a young girl in India, Poonam Jain considered becoming a nun in the Jain religion, she decided however that her vocation in life would be art. Her work investigates “issues that concern a young woman in a city” she believes in “feminism that doesn’t depend on animosity with the feminine but argues a precise opposition, manifested in delicate architectural forms.”
Her work for this exhibition was inspired by chance. One day Jain picked up a discarded notebook on the streets of Mumbai. It was filled with words written repeatedly by a local student as a grammar lesson. The written words related to money and demonetization which were relevant to current events in India in early 2017. Sometimes the teacher would relay incorrect information to their students by spelling words incorrectly. Those misspellings would be repeated over and over by the student. Through this process, misinformation is passed along from generation to generation.
Jain says, “Apart from the emotional attachment to one’s home, I am interested in the question is how socially each home grooms its children. In this series of works, I explore the notion of learning and imposition.” Jain painted letters (that look like chains) on watercolor paper, which are suspended from strings attached to the galleries walls. Curator Nina Levant states, “Jain’s work is a meditation of what and how we learn at home, on whether a home is a safe abode or a comfortable cage, on our need to question authority, explore choices, and assert freedom inside a home.”
Home as an Irrevocable Condition is on view at Sapar Contemporary through June 10th. Sapar contemporary is located at 9 N Moore Street, 1st Floor, New York, NY
photos by the author, top image // courtesy of Sapra Contemporary