Leigh Wen

Explore The Four Elements of Leigh Li-Yun Wen in 3D
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What is water did Bloom, water lover, drawer of water, water carrier returning to the range, admire?….. Its universality… its unplumbed profundity…. the restlessness of its waves and surface particles…

-James Joyce

Earth, air, water, and fire are the center subjects of my art. I live in New York City-it is close to the ocean, and I’ve developed a deep affinity for the sea, which has also evoked sentiments in me for what has across on the other side of the ocean. Majestic mountains in Europe and the U.S. those I’ve seen with spectacular ridgelines or forms are what I want to pay homage to. The sky’s ever-changing atmosphere, fire’s brilliance, and all the energies embodied in nature are the most things that I am in awe of.

—- Leigh Wen

My works express my personal and cultural histories. Having grown up on the island of Taiwan, I have a deep affinity for the elemental power of water and the forces of nature. As a Chinese now living in America, I feel the ebb and flow of competing cultures. The ancient philosophies of my homeland, which teach self-discipline and selflessness, collide and mingle with Western notions of ego, alienation, and desire.

My working method is a process of subtraction from darkness to light. I carved into the paint with a stylus to bring forth the individual lines that are the central motif of my work. These lines flow across the canvas in rhythms and frequencies that create depths and swells on the painted surface. Something of the self is lost in the resulting tangle and then regained, only to be lost again. Simplicity and harmony exist within the chaos of the world.

Color is used to expand the work’s emotional range; my palette is drawn not from appearances but from the lyric and psychic necessities of my art. The uniformity of line, from edge to edge and painting to painting, implies suppression of the artist=s hand in favor of objectivity learned from nature. In spite of this, the work remains deeply autobiographical.

I had completed a series of monumental paintings of the four elements of Western cosmology. I have completed Water Mural (10ft X 50ft), Fire Mural (10ft X 30ft), Earth Mural ( 10ft X 30ft), and Air Mural (10ft X 30ft) sponsored by The Pollock Krasner Foundation. Each large painting employed some variation of my essential wave motif ( ~ ~ ~ ); the completed series will constitute a comprehensive whole that will explore the infinite and the universal.

I work in several different media, including printmaking, metal engraving, fiberglass, ceramics. Though most of my paintings are completed entirely with oil on canvas, they retain elements of these other mediums, in particular, the scored and scratched textures of the intaglio plate and the engraved surface. In a sense, these borrowings also express the tension and richness of simultaneously inhabiting two different worlds, where both, as Joyce wrote in Ulysses carve their persevering penetrativeness into my psyche.

I had an exhibition in 2015 in Beijing Fond Museum. It was titled 1 / 0. It is a pairing of the idea of “one” and “none”, of “positive” and “negative”, reducing the con- traditions in Wen’s work to this basic duality. It is 1 and 0, the ancient concept of yang and yin that has shaped Chinese philosophy for centuries.

However, it is also the modern language of digital technology. It is the binary code of ones and zeros, the same language of Asia’s future. It is thus both the past and the future in one. It is the balance between two poles.

By frequently travels between my two “homes” in the U.S. and Taiwan, and such experience brings me to continuously think about my connections with the surrounding and the homeland in my art career. The exhibition reflects the different phases throughout 35+years of my artist career, including my inner journey and artistic developments, with unwavering feminine stamina flowing through my artworks as they go through transit and transformation.

–Leigh Li-Yun Wen