G.E. Liu: Good Hearts

Opening: Sunday, Jan 14, 2024 2 – 5 pm
Sunday, Jan 14 – Feb 24, 2024

319 N. Albany
Chicago, Il 60612

In Gallery 1, Goldfinch is pleased to announce "Good Hearts," our second solo exhibition with Taiwanese artist G.E. Liu (b. 1995, Hualien, Taiwan), featuring new and recent silk paintings and tapestries that celebrate love while satirizing the ways in which commodity culture manufactures our ideas and expectations of romantic desire in the first place.

Borrowing stylistically from the visual language of shōjo manga (a genre of Japanese manga and anime aimed primarily at teenagers and young women), Liu builds mythological worlds populated by East Asian female characters with dark flowing hair, sinewy limbs, and ruby-red, heart-shaped lips that pout, grimace, or grin maniacally. Some suck purply boba drinks through plastic straws or spew crimson flowers from their mouths like vomitous garlands; others have wings and bare their teeth like demon faeries. These creatures, notes Liu, are “a hybrid of cuteness and the grotesque,” whose pale, ghostly faces, twisted smiles and distorted figures “contend with but also embrace the stereotypes that contribute to the ornamentalizing of East Asian women's bodies.”

Liu made many of the works in “Good Hearts” using two separate layers of silk stretched over a wood frame, which adds depth and complexity to her compositions while also emphasizing their innate theatricality. The top layers typically depict figures in action, while the lower ones, placed several inches behind like backdrops, depict hazy mountain ranges. This double screen effect enhances the painted illusion, but it also breaks it by calling attention to the painting’s artifice as a constructed object.

The characters in Liu’s latest body of paintings and tapestries, who she’s punningly dubbed “Heartwares,” are directly influenced by Liu's interest in the work of Jacques Lacan, the French psychoanalyst who expanded upon Freud’s theories of the unconscious by prioritizing the role that culturally shared languages, symbols and ideologies – “the symbolic order”—play in structuring thought and, importantly, our experience and understanding of desire. Desire, Lacan tells us, springs from an emptiness or “lack” that can never be satisfied, because the lack is regenerated almost as quickly as it fulfilled. (You might think of it in terms of our compulsion to endlessly refresh our Instagram feeds in hopes of seeing our “likes,” emblematized by those coveted hearts, increase in number).