Takming Chuang, Echo Morgan, Emily Speed and Hanae Utamura

5 – 17 September 2013 at Sumarria Lunn Gallery.
Featuring Brushing Jade: a performance by Echo Morgan, 17 September 2013.
Curated by Kate Pantling.

Tightrope brings together the work of four international emerging artists Takming Chuang, Echo Morgan, Emily Speed and Hanae Utamura.

The artists share a performative approach to their practice, where a sense of harmony, dissonance and a raw energy are connecting threads. Each artist takes their own body as a starting point, orchestrating narratives that explore the impact of encounters with materials, environments and cultures. Their work is personal, particular and often intimate but speaks to broader political and cultural concerns.

By approaching their work from the context of performance, the artists bring a strong sense of dramatic tension to their artworks. Each of them embraces the visual impact of their interventions to create work that encapsulates a moment imbued with anticipation. They create projects that play across multiple mediums eluding easy categorisation and bringing dynamism and depth to the expression of their ideas.

Takming Chuang documents physical, often uncomfortable encounters between his own body and traditional art materials. For Dead Hang the artist used his own perspiration to tarnish brass plates after performing repeated pull-ups. His Stand marks the result of hours spent motionless on top of a section of painted canvas until his body heat and weight caused it to harden into a mould of his feet. Through these repeated actions, leaving traces of his own body, Chuang explores themes of physicality, sexual identity and mortality.

Echo Morgan uses her own body as a canvas to reclaim and reassess the cultural expectations of her birthplace in China. Applying the feminist theories of Hélène Cixous who asks us to ‘write about our own story, our history, and ourselves’ she addresses issues of gender, and cultural politics through performance, film and photography. For I am the Four Gentlemen Morgan paints on her skin a depiction of the four plants known in China by the same name, chosen for their hardy attributes and depicted as a group: the orchid, the bamboo, the chrysanthemum and the plum blossom. Through doing so Morgan reclaims this Chinese trope as her own and challenges traditional cultural ideals.

Emily Speed explores the relationship between the body and architecture, considering how a person is shaped by the buildings they have occupied and how a person occupies their own psychological space. Her Body / Building photographs mark the point of intersection between the body and the buildings built to house and protect it. Speed’s works make connections by building up shifting layers of disparate materials over time. Through exploring the built environment and drawing on historic architecture, she examines our attempts to create permanence and legacy through building.

Hanae Utamura’s works arise from the artist’s encounters with specific sites. Her Secret Performance Series documents a series of performances in which the artist, as an anonymous figure, makes subtle, insistent and sometimes dangerous interventions into the natural environment. Utamura’s photographic works refer to the traditional Japanese preference for landscape art and the desire to eliminate the self in order to be at one with nature. Her works hinge on an exploration of harmony and disjuncture between her body and the physical and cultural landscape it inhabits.

Takming Chuang is a graduate of Binghamton University, New York (BA). Recent solo exhibitions include Bodyblocked, Right Window, San Francisco, (2013), Resolution, CHC Gallery, New York, (2010) and Self and Structure, Loewe Contemporary, London, (2009). Recent group exhibitions include Attract Theory, Soka Art Centre, Taiwan, (2013), Point of No Return, Southern Exposure, San Francisco (2012) and Five Senses Projects, Five Senses Fine Art, San Rafael, CA, (2010).

Echo Morgan is a graduate of Central Saint Martins (BA) and Royal College of Art (MA). Recent solo/ two person exhibitions include Warrior, Blackhall Studio, (2012). Recent group exhibitions include Infr’Action 9Sète, France, (2013), 21st Century Art & Design, Selected Works from the RCA Degree Show 2013, Christie’s, (2013), LPS1:Featured, London Print Studio, (2013), and Drawing Sessions, Royal Stand Gallery, Liverpool Biennial, (2012). Echo Morgan won the Crown Palace Drawing Competition (2011).

Emily Speed is a graduate of Edinburgh College of Art (BA) and Wimbledon College of Art (MA). Recent solo/two person exhibitions include Head to Head (with Hayley Newman), Castlefield Gallery, Manchester, (2013), MAKE SHIFT, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, (2011) and egg, nest, home, country, universe, Showreel, Milan, Italy, (2010). Recent group exhibitions include STILL/life, Trust New Art Bristol, Tyntesfield House, Bristol (2013) Northern Art Prize Exhibition, Leeds Art Gallery, Leeds, (2013), Subjective Involvement in Physical Spatial Entities, Oredaria Gallery, Rome, (2012), and Interchange: Cities on the Edge, Liverpool Biennial, (2008). Emily Speed was shortlisted for the Northern Art Prize (2013) and shortlisted for the Bar Tur Award (2011).

Hanae Utamura is a graduate of Goldsmiths College (BA) and Chelsea College of Art and Design (MA). Recent solo exhibitions include Construct, WW Gallery, Patio Projects, London, (2012), andInverted Horizons, Schwartz Gallery, London (2011). Recent group exhibitions include Pyeong Chang Biennale, Pyeong Chang, South Korea, (2013), TOPFLOOR/TOPOS Dordtyart, Netherlands, (2013), Seoul, Seoul, Seoul, National Art Studio Changdong, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul, (2013) and Chain Letter, Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Santa Monica, California, (2011). Hanae Utamura was awarded the MA Stars award (2010) and shortlisted for the Bar Tur Award (2011).

For more information and details of the works on display, please contact Kate.