The Life of a Storm

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This blurb was written to accompany Cindy Yuen-Zhe Chen’s exhibition at Gaffa as part of ‘The Narrative of Location’, curated by Shivanjani Lal.

“Vermillion Dragons”

Landscapes and experience of place are central themes at the heart of Cindy Yuen-Zhe Chen’s practice. The Sydney-based artist uses drawings to give visual form to the invisible phenomena of sound, which are recorded by the artist as a means to mark time and space in her local surroundings. Chen is interested in the idea of cross-modal association, or how it is that people associate particular visual forms with the experience of sound. Her resulting drawings in ink and brush are a convergence of optical and aural information, each piece a response to a specific temporal moment.

In Chen’s new series created for this ‘Narrative of Location’, the artist recorded sounds and video impressions of a thunderstorm as it passed over her home in Sydney’s upper north shore. The weather event made a strong impression on Chen. The large resulting drawing on silk, which is suspended over a blowing fan, captures the impact and immensity of the storm in a physical space. The spatial dynamics in the drawing recall traditional Chinese landscape painting, while the use of vermillion ink evokes the classical theme of dragons weaving between clouds. Chen draws upon this cultural legacy and lineage from a place she has never visited, to represent and articulate her experience of a place that is now her home.

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