I was intrigued by Liying’s first install, Between. On display were a hanging board, painted red on one side and blue on the other with correspondingly coloured scrunched plastic attached to each surface. Beneath the panel were a series of glass bowls or vats with water inside.
There was a very crude approach to the panel, that had a naïve aesthetic where the bowls with water were in contrast immaculate, machined but randomly sized. The panel was charged with colour, yet growing out of its surface, or emblazoned upon it, was a rough plastic, organically formed wrapper.
My first instinct was of bewilderment and an unsureness of how to interpret the work, but of a compulsion to discover. As I relaxed I could feel something quite interesting going on. Each side of the panel is a version of the other but a completely different colour. The bowls underneath offer a reflection of the panel depending where you stand they reveal either side, red or blue or both. Neither blue can see red nor red see blue but the water underneath sees everything, once activated by a gaze. Dust collects in the water marking a passing of time, desirable or not this will happen.
The installation feels like a very intuitive piece of work, the paint and scrunched plastic almost violent in contrast to the water below. It is bold piece and could not be missed in the space but at the same time a surreal contemplative production. Liying described the work as representing the past (blue) and future (red) with the bowls providing a reflection one to the other, perhaps the bowls are now, creating a measurement of space and juxtaposition of numerous entangled virtual spaces.
It brings to mind abstract expressionist approaches to sculpture and forms. And the use of a liquid reflective surface reminds me of Richard Wilson’s 20:50.
Although Liying had some strong symbolic ideas in mind with the materials and approach I feel this is not something that needs to be deduced too directly. I noticed that the crude, scrunched material has similarities with the foil in her second install which intrigues me further. There is a continuity in this vertical surfaces covered in cheap plastics and foils.
I’m very content to bask in the mystery of this work, and brings to mind these lines from My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk:
“What I called ‘memory’ contained an entire world: with time spread out infinitely before me in both directions. I understood how the world as I first experienced it could exist afterward as memory. As I died surrounded by this festival of colour, I also discovered why I felt so relaxed, as if I’d been liberated from a straitjacket. From now on, nothing was restricted, and I had unlimited time and space in which to experience all eras and all places.”