La vie et sa danse
LIUSA WANG is pleased to present La vie et sa danse, featuring Alexandria Coe and Erin Armstrong, open from 6 February 2021 to 6 March 2021.
In an era where uncertainty—woven from fear, courage, and passionate curiosity— remains a concern inherent in life, the exhibition examines the meaning of existence and how to see one’s suffering and loss in this modern age.
Nietzsche believed greatness in life lay in « amor fati » or love of one’s fate. On the other hand, Schopenhauer argues that life consists of ceaseless motion and restlessness. It’s about the “Will-to-Live”, a blind incessant impulse or fundamental drive that originates in the body that pushes for an insatiable continuation onwards in human existence.
Rather than denying or tolerating what is necessary, one accepts the good, the bad, and the mundane with strength and all-embracing gratitude that borders on a kind of enthusiastic affection.
Armstrong and Coe reflect this conflicting duality of perspectives on life. Armstrong’s works explore the present human condition by looking at the relationship between individuals and their environment while Coe’s works show a sense of sensuality and freedom through the female nude as the main subject. Her practice consists of uninhibited and minimalist mark-making capturing the essence of the physical human form.
Armstrong juxtaposes the colliding feelings of helplessness and fear with an awakening sense of calm and optimism that slowly emerges during this forced interruption of our lives. The jubilant palette and bright pastel colours set against muted backgrounds underscore the circular link between us and our surroundings, a fundamental entity to the sense of disorientation experienced by humanity. The pieces reveal the individual experience of being alive in a time of isolation, chaos, and uncertainty. Swirling flora and fauna distort the sense of space and time. Natural elements are emphasized in order to capture the fragile balance with the world around us. The figures are seated beside animals or plants that are either wilting and dying or blooming and budding, signaling the cycle of life, death, and time.
Intuitively creating her charcoal drawing works, Coe has empowered her artwork with simplistic yet bold attributes. Each drawing represents a woman in the artist’s life, whether a model, a friend, or a mentor. As the sociologist David Le Breton explains, “The body is the root of human identity, the place and time where the world takes on flesh. Through it, humans appropriate the substances of life and translate it to others through the symbolic systems shared with the community.” The photography pieces are self-portraits of the artist herself.
Together, the drawings and photographs reveal her ceaseless journey in understanding the depths of the mind through observations of the human form. Coe’s works exhibit mankind’s intrinsic pull to continuous evolution, as she states that, “what [I] strive for is an autonomous body that chooses its own identity, rather than behaving by any social set rules of how female bodies should behave.”
How to see one’s existence? Whether the answer is « amor fati » or keeping the « Will-to-Live », both artists are still on the journey of self-discovery and continue to show the gentle but firm power of women. Roaming through the mental landscapes of Armstrong’s figures or triggered by Coe’s drawings of experiencing that most original and deeply rooted desire of humanity—freedom—the audience will feel a sense of healing and pacification.