Nai-Jen Yang & Xinran Liu: Pacing the Void

26 Apr-18 May 2024
PV 25 Apr 2024

Alma Pearl
London N1 5ET


Alma Pearl is pleased to present ‘Pacing the Void’, a two-person exhibition showcasing recent work by Nai-Jen Yang (b. 1996, Taiwan) and Xinran Liu (b. 1998, China). In their culturally hybrid practices, each artist has developed a unique painterly vocabulary rooted in Asian philosophical and religious traditions–Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism–while combining Eastern and Western modes of abstraction. 

The exhibition takes its title from Wu Yün’s ‘Cantos of Pacing the Void’. These T'ang-dynasty writings refer to a celestial journey beyond the outer reaches of the heavens. Evoking a similar sense of alternative temporality and ethereal presence, the works in ‘Pacing the Void’ explore a slower approach to making and viewing. While not directly dealing with technological concerns, these paintings challenge the fast-paced consumption of images and ask us to slow our tempos of bodily and experiential perception.

The paintings of Nai-Jen Yang explore connections to nature and personal experience while also maintaining a conceptual and spiritual approach to painting which is reminiscent of the Korean movement of the Dansaekhwa. Yang’s repetitive, meditative, and process-based approach to mark-making reveals a preoccupation with both surface and support, which remains strongly rooted in physical and psychological experiences of the natural world. In this new body of work, Yang pushes forward her investigation, generating a near merger of painterly material with the support. Her titles, for example Mist and Puddles, are references to this presence-cum-absence and speak to elements real and present yet ineffable and ungraspable, perhaps best captured in our worldly experience. The ethereal, soft-tone monochromes serve to cleanse the mind of forces imposed by the speed of the digital in our moment. 

Xinran Liu’s paintings draw on her personal experiences and moments spent with friends and family members. Her canvases function as a diary or sketchbook where she assembles moments of collaged memory attached to a menagerie of materials and objects. While reminiscent of Western practices associated with Surrealist automatism as well as the modern still-life, Liu’s paintings embody acts of reduction, where memories are recalled through an absence rather than presence of form. In A footnote of June 12th, 2023, scribbles and other shapes appear on canvas in an attempt to crystallise a moment before it becomes language. Here, different tempos materialise in the opposition between the impulsive mark and the slow perception of the work required as painterly elements both emerge and dissolve from view. 


Nai-Jen Yang & Xinran Liu: Pacing the Void press release