An individual exhibition by the exceptional New York artist Irene Ailin Wang was held at 360 SPACE, titled “Fabricator, in a Cramped Room”. In this exhibition, her works used a unique 3D rendering technique, which is a new medium for exploration compared to her previously well-known oil painting methods. The title “Fabricator, in a Cramped Room” hints at the challenges faced by female artists in an environment that tries to silence their expressions, as well as their persistent explorations of such an environment through the creation of art.
Irene Ailin Wang’s work has been collected by numerous galleries, including those in New York, California, Vancouver, Hangzhou, and the Beijing 798 Art Center. For all her creations, she draws inspiration from actual, lived experiences. Her unique artistic practices and the underlying feministic thinking were the focus of attention. As an artist who has presented personal works in many well-known art showings, Irene calls for attention to social issues and seeks to awaken women in her exhibitions. This includes the “The Third Bank of The River” exhibition held in New York in 2022 and “On a Loooop” in the District of Columbia, Washington, both of which proved widely influential. In addition, she also actively participates in group exhibitions and reviews artworks from young artists, such as “Kitchen Sink”, an exhibition held at the POSTCRYPT Art Gallery in 2022.
It is our honor to have this outstanding artist with us to share her creative thinking and allow us to take a glimpse at the artistic, spiritual world unique to her, through which we may gain a better understanding of the philosophy behind the creation of her artworks.
Please tell us about your new exhibitions. Can you describe your art creation using three keywords?
Escapism, Self-rejuvenation, Resistance.
The essence of escapism and self-rejuvenation is expressed through my art. During the low ebb of my life, painting, Buddhism, and Taoism were my spiritual pillars. It is through escapism that I was able to achieve inner peace in a time of turmoil. The act of art creation, in a sense, served as the medium of my pursuit of a state of balance, for shelter from the pressures and troubles of the tangible world. Therefore, escapism, in this sense, should not be considered as willful evasion from the real, but instead a method of self-exploration and healing.
However, as time went on, I gradually realized that it is far from enough to just heal oneself by avoiding the world without striving to change it for the better. I see myself when I look at the suffering women of our society. My work has then evolved from the passivity of escapism to the activity of encouragement and expression—a symbol for the change from inaction to action. I use brushes and canvases to express a resolute resistance against the predicaments that women of this society find themselves in.
My work embodies the concept of flow and change. I believe all that is of this world are constantly evolving and changing. Nothing is permanent, but it is also due to this impermanent nature that changes are made possible. Through painting and the creation of art, I try to capture the essence of this changing nature of the world, to allow more women to finally rise and take a stand for themselves.
We have been consistently mentioning women in your works. Please tell us more about your conception of women, and how the feminine role and female identity are expressed through your art.
A significant part of my artistic creations is about the exploration of the inner, authentic self and its struggles against the social identities imposed upon us. For a long time, I always identified myself only in relation to someone else: I may be someone’s daughter, someone’s wife, or someone’s mother. These identities were constructed through the lens of the outside world—and with them also came the corresponding social expectations. If it were not for the straitened circumstances I had to go through, I think I would still be holding the false belief that such externally sourced identities are the same as my actual, authentic, self. I would have thought that these restraints and responsibilities are simply part of the natural order of this world. The me who would have assumed such identities would be fragile and vulnerable; any hopes for reaching the spiritual, creative world would have been denied by the impermeable cage of expectations and responsibilities.
When someone looks at the artworks that I have exhibited this time, they might notice that my creations are no longer confined to a two-dimensional space but instead have transcended into the realm of the three-dimensional. This is because these creations stem from the suffering women that I have met and known; they are all three-dimensional, living beings, who cannot be expressed by any means in a two-dimensional space. The creations that they inspire, therefore, should also not be limited to the two-dimensional space of the canvas, and instead, should transcend into the three-dimensional world in which they belong.
My past experiences working in the financial industry as well as the discussions of gender, identity, and self-understanding, are essential to my creative process. These are the issues that I often contemplate, and they fuel my need for further creations and expressions.
From abstract thoughts to your artistic expressions of them, what stages of artistic creations have you gone through?
I engaged with art-related events and activities very early on in my life. However, the first time I attempted to create something myself was only a few years ago. I remember not wanting to stop; I wanted to keep painting as the brush externalized my internal world. I wanted to express the internal worlds of the women who are suffering. These sufferings are constantly present and segregate women from each other. Such inexpressible sufferings may finally be articulated through the brush and the canvas. Although it is a concrete message to convey, its artistic articulations may still come out as vague and abstract.
In the process of learning and creating art, what, or who, do you think has influenced your creations?
I prefer modern art, especially abstract expressionistic and color field paintings that seek to explore the inner, spiritual world. For example, Mark Rothko’s color field paintings would invite me into a mystic realm, where his clever usage of color and light and shadow would put on a show for the intricacy of human emotions. Many outstanding female artists are known for their abstract expressionistic paintings, such as Helen Frankenthaler, who is also a great inspiration for my creations. The astonishing works of these artists, with their abilities to invoke striking and vivid visual impact and as well as emotional resonance from their viewers, are treasured and kept in the depth of my creative mind, and it is through their influences that I can be the creative artist that I am today.