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Nadya Isabella

Aubin Kwon

Christian Vistan

Splinter awe !!

28 January - 14 March 2021

 

Unit 17 is pleased to present the group exhibition Splinter awe !! with new and recent works by Nadya Isabella, Aubin Kwon and Christian Vistan. The mixed-media works by all three artists play with ideas and objects sitting parallel to each other, though never necessarily melding or becoming one in the same. Points of commonality between the works arise: organic forms, muted hues of evening landscapes and objects that straddle multiple forms. Splinter awe !! hints at a dialogue between each of the artists, one that can’t quite be codified.  

 

The title of the exhibition references bamboo that the artists have carved smooth for the construction of a blind on the central window in the gallery. The whittling process of this sculpture produced perfect spiralled offcuts. Materially, the spiral emerges from the bamboo, but its newfound formal differentiation is now something else. Same, but different. Despite the process of splintering and diverging, the spiral and the bamboo are nevertheless fundamentally interlinked, leading us to question: at which point does the emergent idea or form truly become separate from its origin?

    

Splinter awe !! sees echoes from a past exhibition by the artists, both thematically and formally. This previous exhibition, held in Airdrie (Alberta, Canada) at Yum Yum Chicken & BBQ, presented mixed media works with a variety of materials, shapes, themes and formats that possessed a similar ephemeral sense of union as in Splinter awe !!. The exhibition also had collaboratively made laminated drawings as restaurant placemats, allowing visitors to view artworks not only on the walls but also underneath their plates. In Splinter awe !! this kind of thinking manifests in the form of temporary tattoos available at the gallery, allowing the exhibition to bleed into the world at large and carry on through body ornamentation.

 

Isabella’s paintings depict amphibian romances, intimate portraits and lush foliage swarmed with googly-eyed insects. The canvases oscillate between imagery evoking the camera roll and fairytale-esque dramas taking place in the natural world, from ducks displaying painful congestion to moths flocking to a bright light with perfectly done lashes. The formats shift as frequently as the visual iconography - one wall, with a small portrait sized canvas of two frogs kissing under fireworks, Fireworks (2020), is partially veiled by one of Kwon’s Three of Stars (2020). On a perpendicular wall, Backyard (2020), one of Isabella’s large scale canvases depicts an overgrown Vancouver garden with a disorienting sense of depth, populated by anthropomorphized butterflies, a carefully poised spider and a forgotten barbeque.

 

Kwon’s mixed-media paintings appear as a variety of objects, stripped of their original utilitarian qualities: a wall clock framed by paper pulp is revealed on closer inspection to have no moving parts. The clock hands are replaced by painted arrows, numbers obscured by personal photographs. Sewn and painted textile hang from pigmented dowels, suggesting fictional domestic narratives. Humour is employed frequently through these categorical reversals, an element of Kwon’s practice mirrored in Grime’s presence in the work How To Draw (2020), with the pop star herself existing between a space of the artist and venture capitalist. 

Vistan’s wall works exist at the intersection of several forms, a series of highly textured paintings calling up textiles, landscapes and fabric patterns. The large scale works on paper incorporate brown and yellow pigments saturated with pink and green hues, as seen in Orchid (2021) and Awash (2020), evoking biological material either going through bloom or rot. Smaller canvases which intersperse the space function as abstract compositions or the echoes of architectural elements, such as window frames, arches and insects. Vistan’s compositions, rather than working with allegory, exist in a liminal space, between genre, form and material.  

 

As the viewer moves from one work to another, links appear, fleeting as they may be. Entropy, personal narratives and the drama of the everyday appear as points of potential touch between the works. They employ ironic reversals - window frames become frames for art, animals anthropomorphize and painting becomes simultaneous landscape and textile. The installation of Splinter awe !! suggests an endless cycle of growth and possibility. The pieces in the show, which run adjacent to each other in a formal and conceptual sense, but never fully intersecting or ending in a clear-cut thematic union while still maintaining a deep-seated sense that the works belong together, highlights Isabella, Vistan and Kwon’s intimate and collaborative approach.

 

Christian Vistan is an artist originally from the peninsula now known as Bataan, Philippines. He lives and works on Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam and Tsawwassen territories. His work and projects have been presented at Artspeak, 221a, and Fault Line Projects in Canada; mild climate and Atlanta Contemporary in the United States; and Kamias Triennial and Green Papaya in the Philippines. He has curated and contributed to exhibitions as Curatorial Assistant at Centre A in Vancouver and Nanaimo Art Gallery in Vancouver Island. Recently, he and Aubin Kwon started dreams comma delta, a space for artist projects and exhibitions located in his family home in Delta, BC.

 

Aubin Kwon is an artist who was born in Korea, raised in Calgary and is currently living on Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam territories, making food, paintings and friends. Working within the mediums of painting and illustration, his practice is rooted in the everyday biographical experience: ruminating on fictions, “how to” books, epiphytes and the conflicts of absurdity. He has shown at Split Ends, Cuckoo (2019) in Ladysmith BC as well as Summary Part 1. (2019) at Dynamo Arts Association.

 

Nadya Isabella is an artist born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia and is currently living on Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam territories. A recent Emily Carr graduate, Isabella’s painting practice spans a wide range of themes, from animals to pop culture, the fetishization of commodities to the rituals of the everyday. These subjects are often injected with a sense of drama- poorly taken selfies become reminiscent of paparazzi photographs and even insects and amphibians become embroiled in fiery romances replete with picture perfect make-up and eyelashes. Recently, Isabella has exhibited in the group show Crocodile Tears (2020) at Unit 17, Vancouver; Honest Cuts (2020) at New Gallery, Calgary; Split Ends, Cuckoo (2019) in Ladysmith BC, and Shadow Tongue (2019) at Duplex, Vancouver.

Nadya Isabella, Aubin Kwon & Christian Vistan, Splinter awe !!, 2021, bar: paper, flour, salt, glue, bergamot oil, wire, dye; blind: bamboo, hemlock, tung oil, cotton twine, dye, nylon string, beads (resin, wood, and paper clay); image transfers, dimensions variable

Nadya Isabella, Aubin Kwon & Christian Vistan, Splinter awe !!, 2021

Nadya Isabella, Aubin Kwon & Christian Vistan, Splinter awe !!, 2021

Nadya Isabella, Aubin Kwon & Christian Vistan, Splinter awe !!, 2021

Nadya Isabella, Aubin Kwon & Christian Vistan, Splinter awe !!, 2021 (detail)

Nadya Isabella, Aubin Kwon & Christian Vistan, Splinter awe !!, 2021 (detail)

Nadya Isabella, Aubin Kwon & Christian Vistan, Splinter awe !!, 2021 (detail)

Nadya Isabella, Aubin Kwon & Christian Vistan, Splinter awe !!, 2021 (detail)

Nadya Isabella, Aubin Kwon & Christian Vistan, Splinter awe !!, 2021 (detail)

Nadya Isabella, Aubin Kwon & Christian Vistan, Splinter awe !!, 2021 (detail)

Nadya Isabella, Aubin Kwon & Christian Vistan, Splinter awe !!, 2021 (detail)

Nadya Isabella, Aubin Kwon & Christian Vistan, Splinter awe !!, 2021

Nadya Isabella, Aubin Kwon & Christian Vistan, Splinter awe !!, 2021 (detail)

Nadya Isabella, Aubin Kwon & Christian Vistan, Splinter awe !!, 2021

Nadya Isabella, Aubin Kwon & Christian Vistan, Splinter awe !!, 2021 (detail)

Nadya Isabella, Aubin Kwon & Christian Vistan, Splinter awe !!, 2021

Nadya Isabella, Aubin Kwon & Christian Vistan, Splinter awe !!, 2021

Nadya Isabella, Aubin Kwon & Christian Vistan, Splinter awe !!, 2021 (detail)

Nadya Isabella, Aubin Kwon & Christian Vistan, Splinter awe !!, 2021 (detail)

Splinter awe !!, installation view Unit 17

Nadya Isabella, Aubin Kwon & Christian Vistan, Splinter awe !!, 2021 (detail)

Christian Vistan, A-drift, 2020, charcoal, tempera, ink on cotton, 19 x 30cm

Aubin Kwon, Lotus Root, 2019, watercolour, flashe on burnt clay with colour on glass,  25 x 24.5cm

(Left) Aubin Kwon, Perfect Time, 2020, transparent colour, relief ink, flashe, image transfer on plexiglass framed with dyed paper pulp, 33 x 44.5cm (Right) Nadya Isabella, Allergy Season, 2020, oil on canvas, 30 x 40.5cm

Aubin Kwon, Perfect Time, 2020, transparent colour, relief ink, flashe, image transfer on plexiglass framed with dyed paper pulp, 33 x 44.5cm

 Nadya Isabella, Allergy Season, 2020, oil on canvas, 30 x 40.5cm

Splinter awe !!, installation view Unit 17

Splinter awe !!, installation view Unit 17

Nadya Isabella, Next Move, 2020, oil on canvas, 60.5 x 45.5cm

(Above) Aubin Kwon, Three of Stars, 2020, watercolour, embroidered cotton thread on

organza hung on graphite and flashe on clay, 71 x 47cm (Below) Nadya Isabella,

Fireworks, 2020, oil on canvas, 50.5 x 40.5cm

Christian Vistan, Laundry, 2021, tempera, ink, watercolour, grey water (from painting) on manila paper, 91 x 119cm

Christian VIstan, Nanaimo, 2019, charcoal, graphite, watercolour on cotton, 30.4 x 19cm

Aubin Kwon, How To Draw, 2020, oil paint and image transfer on glass framed with

watercolour on clay, 38 x 31cm

Aubin Kwon, How To Draw, 2020 (detail)

Splinter awe !!, installation view Unit 17

Christian Vistan, Watering, 2021, tempera, watercolour, wax, image transfer (Aubin Kwon)

on cotton, 42 x 30cm

Nadya Isabella, Backyard, 2020, oil on canvas, 152.4 x 122cm

Splinter awe !!, installation view Unit 17

Splinter awe !!, installation view Unit 17

Splinter awe !!, installation view Unit 17

(Left) Nadya Isabella, Ascending, 2020, oil on canvas in Peruvian walnut frame, 50.75 x 44cm (Right) Aubin Kwon, Hibiscus Nightmare, 2020, oil paint on glass framed with watercolour on clay, 54 x 58cm

Nadya Isabella, Ascending, 2020, oil on canvas in Peruvian walnut frame, 50.75 x 44cm

Aubin Kwon, Hibiscus Nightmare, 2020, oil paint on glass framed with watercolour

on clay, 54 x 58cm

(Left) Christian Vistan, Orchid, 2021, tempera, graphite, charcoal, watercolour, grey water (from painting) on manila paper, 122 x 91cm (Right) Nadya Isabella, Ngojek di Ibu Kota, 2019, laminated oil painting on paper and stickers, 29 x 23cm

Nadya Isabella, Ngojek di Ibu Kota, 2019, laminated oil painting on paper and stickers, 29 x 23cm

Christian Vistan, Awash, 2020, tempera, chalk pastel, grey water (from painting) on manila paper, 122 x 91cm

Christian Vistan, Lemon, 2020, charcoal, tempera on cotton, 30.4 x 19cm

Aubin Kwon, Part of a Window, 2019, burnt clay, 38 x 21.5cm