Holding Patterns: Kien Situ
09 July -
02 August 2020
4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art
181-187 Hay St, Haymarket
In a period of uncertainty and stasis, artists have demonstrated the capacity of human creativity through artistic innovation, lateral thought, and inspired action. In our current period of changes and shifts, 4A is pleased to invite you to engage with Holding Patterns, a series of four solo exhibitions on view from July to October. These exhibitions highlight and support the works of Sydney-based artists Kien Situ, Crossing Threads®, Shireen Taweel and Sofiyah Ruqayah, utilising our ground-floor gallery space and windows out onto Haymarket’s streets.
Referring to the aeronautical manoeuvre of an airplane forced to delay its landing procedure to avoid potential disaster, a holding pattern suggests divergence from an established routine and the suspension of normalcy. Crucially, it is an action of adaptability: a pilot executing specific turns whilst accounting for wind speed and direction to establish its course. The pattern achieves seemingly limitless flight, looping until given permission to commence its landing operations, once again returning to earth and reality. It is in this moment of suspension that we find ourselves undertaking our own rituals of contemplation, addressing our own pathways forward in a time of stillness.
For the exhibiting artists COVID-19 has been an unexpected intervention, a force majeure. Forced out of their routines, artists have now been given opportunities to reflect on what it means to be creatively-engaged during a time of crisis. Contemplating artistic practice with the arts industry shut down, Holding Patterns demonstrates the resilience and ingenuity of artists during this time.. Some have taken time to rest and recharge, quietly laying projects to rest to make way for new ideas, while others have pivoted to hone their craft.
Through textiles, sculptures, metallurgy, drawing and painting, the artists of Holding Patterns deftly navigate cultural histories, identities, object permanence and transmutation through process-based practice. As the first exhibiting artist, Kien Situ creates architecturally-informed sculptures of domestic and sacred objects and furniture rendered with obscurity in form, function and material. The complex ‘interknot’ technique of Crossing Threads® embraces compositional tension and release in the contrasting tones and textures of their lyrical, abstracted pieces. Shireen Taweel modernises the traditional art of copper-smithing to create pieces that blur the line between jewellery and sculpture, opening dialogues of shared histories and relationships between communities of fluid identities. Sofiyah Ruqayah’s indeterminate forms draw upon mutations of human and non-human realities, generating connections between tangible bodies and aetheric dreams and spirit worlds informed by cultural myths of embodiment.
Fusing together their own creative impulses within traditional methods, these artists make mass departures from ‘normal’ culturally-concerned art making. It is within these strays from tradition and the ‘expected’ that new cultural dialogues can begin to emerge, representing the hybridity of Asian-Australian contemporary art practice. By merging traditional Asian techniques and labour-intensive processes, Holding Patterns relishes in craftsmanship and provides opportunities to glimpse the artists’ material worlds of contemplation and stillness, offering momentary suspension from our own holding patterns.
Top image: Kien Situ, Shanshui (Wall Plate), 2020, Chinese Mò ink, gypsum plaster, 48 x 48 x 8cm. Courtesy the artist.