Traversing the postmodern landscape, imagination and identity become one. In The Delusions Run Thick Mark Chu embraces the power of fantasy, hollow ambition, and absurdity, in a series of large scale, self-portraits depicting the plural nature of who or what a person can (and cannot) be. The painting exhibition opens at fortyfivedownstairs, Melbourne, on Tuesday 21 January 2020.
In one work, Chu becomes a goalkeeper, a vicar, a nationalist, and a cartoon snail called Barry, highlighting how persistent (and mollusk) transformation can be. Using virtual ideology, Chu’s kinetic and colourful work thrusts himself into an irreverent multiverse, where passion collides with awkwardness, ethics with violence, where object, life, idea and category are all flattened by paint and the hallucination of buzzwords. A conscious departure from modernist portraits, these paintings tap into just how demented the chaos of the zeitgeist can be, where new ideals inundate a global society still bound to its past.
In taking postmodernity as the earnest subject of these reflective works, Chu consciously engages in a metamodern practice. Practically, Chu layers colors with hundreds of handwritten buzzwords to create tangled non-representational forms, with no literal meaning. When shapes or objects emerge, he strengthens their form, applies motifs from the same universe. After repeating this several times, he inserts himself, then masks negative space with further color, leaving the final composition devoid of most textual marks, and a representational self-portrait in image.
Mark Chu’s painting is informed by multidisciplinary work, having written for The Good Food Guide, The Lifted Brow, and EuropeNow, and recorded as a solo pianist with the MSO and WASO. He has a fiction MFA from Columbia University and recently studied the Complex Systems Summer School at the Santa Fe Institute. Consequently, he is engaged in a research investigating colour properties of words.
Chu has recently shown paintings in Melbourne, Shanghai and New York City. He frequently contributes to the Atlantic City Arts Foundation’s public art program, through murals, print, and installations in disused spaces. In 2019 Chu attended the Q Bank Residency in Queenstown, Tasmania. Later in 2020, he will collaborate with Michelin-starred restaurant Nouri, in Singapore, on works reflecting emotions uncommon to the fine dining experience. This is Chu’s ninth solo painting show, and he is based in New York City.
Gallery Hours: Tuesday-Friday 11am-5pm, Saturday 11am-3pm
Exhibition Dates: 21 January - 1 February 2020
Artwork credit: Mark Chu, Me as a Goalkeeper, a Vicar, a Nationalist, and Cartoon Snail Called Perry, 2019, acrylic on canvas, 152cm x 122cm