Silia Ka Tung survey show at the Saraceno Art Gallery, following the first iteration of the solo show at roman art scene. The exhibition features her inspiration in myths and folklore, the world of magic and the phenomena of the natural world. Tung is an established artist, originating from China. Her works are a fusion of various cultures: from Chinese to Greek mythology, to Japanese manga, to Korean media and all the way to Hindu philosophy. She personifies traditional magic, wisdom and religion into contemporary morphologies which foreground a contesting naivete and innocence. Through drawing, painting, soft sculpture and installation, Tung gives shape to a multi-layered visual language, where fear merges with wonder, desire and magic. A journey to an invisible world, the viewer is invited to escape the ‘ordinary’ versus a shamanic practice.
A multidisciplinary artist born in China. Tung has lived and worked in London since 1997, where she studied painting at the Chelsea College of Arts (1997-2000), followed by a MFA in Painting at the Slade School of Fine Art (2000-2002). Tung has had numerous group and solo exhibitions in the UK and internationally, including at the Royal Academy of Arts, London; Arti et Amicitiae Amsterdam; Galerie Karsten Greve, Paris; Creative Centre Osaka, The Rubin Museum, Tel Aviv; KISS Kunst I Schloss and the jerwood Space Untergroeningen; Centre Design Marseille; MoCA Shanghai and the Jerwood Space, London.
Recent exhibitions include Sense of Place, Kunsten Festival Watou; Surface Tension, The NFT Gallery, London; SHAMANISM –Galleria Mimmo Scognamiglio, Milan curated by James Putnam and Glow Shenzhen International Art & Lighting Festival.
CB: How do you describe your own art research?
SKT: I have curiosity for all the unknowns in this world, and so my research can be totally random and weirdly mashed-up. Covering many intertwined terrains – from folk art to cartoons, from the cosmic to the religious, from myths to nature and our cultural landscape, as well as spin offs, it is like Odysseus’ unexpected journey on his way home …
CB: Which theme is central in your work?
SKT: I would say “Escapism“ – I am very interested in “other worlds”, whether that’s our inner selves, tales from mythology, natural phenomena or the laws of nature – any place where our “human rules” no longer apply. I try to translate these invisible sources into multilayered and textured visual journeys.
CB: Are you interested in the aesthetic spiritual aspects?
SKT: I think all forms of art are aesthetically spiritual. It’s the artists’ path, the portal that connects us to the wider world.
CB: What is your greatest source of inspiration?
SKT: My father is a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine, so I grew up knowing the marvels of healing through herbs, animal parts, chi, acupuncture, etc. is well as the six elements theory. All of these are an important part of my inspiration.
CB: How art can make sense in a society?
SKT: Art offers us a different angle, a unique way to see things. It has a striking capacity to transform existing narratives into new worlds and visual landscapes with different layers of meaning. It’s an exit from the banality of our daily routines, and helps us to grasp and make sense of life’s uncertainties.
CB: What do you need to create your work?
SKT: My work usually takes quite a long time to complete. My interests are like background music – many things from different sources that juxtapose and integrate, making connections between seemingly unconnected parts of this universe.
I most enjoy the building up period… I work on multiple works at the same time – they are my adventures and my fantasies – and I like to see all the notes slowly coming together and interlocking visually.
CB: Can you describe your first solo show in Italy? How has structure the exhibition at Saraceno Art Gallery?
Rome is a city that has always inspired me, and a new gallery is always an opportunity to start a new journey, offering a platform to reach a new audience…
The body of work in this exhibition is made up of soft sculptures and paintings. Starting with hand-stitched bossoms from the series “Sunny Side Up”, which was inspired by the Greek mythology of the Amazon women who would cut off their right breasts to better fire a bow and arrow. I also see these works as trophies of motherhood.
Then there are the mythological creatures, the nine-tailed fox, the serpent, minotaur and horse god, which lead you towards a larger painting ‘Rainbow Fall’ that traces the wonders of a rainbow as it meets with a waterfall.
Around half the works in the show focus on my long-term obsession with figs and mushrooms. This group is infused by my recent reads: “Ladders to Heaven” by Mike Shanahan about fig trees and Anna Tsing’s “The Mushroom at the End of the World” – from which the title of the exhibition is taken. Both books describe a layered, heterogeneous and intertwined landscape, constructed by different cognitions and beings, and exploring the complexity and wonder of nature and interspecies relations.
Camilla Boemio is an art writer and curator who has curated projects around the world, from Los Angeles to Odessa, Ukraine. She is a member of AICA (International Association of Arts Critics) and IKT (International). Her recent curatorial projects include: her role as associate curator at Pera + Flora + Fauna. The Story of Indigenousness and Ownership of History, an official Collateral Event at 59th International Art Exhibition: La Biennale di Venezia (2022); Jérôme Chazeix The coat of hipness (materiali velati) in Altaroma2020 agenda at Label201 (2020); Marina Moreno: Dance as sculpture in space supported by Arts Council England (2019-2020); The Contemplative Edge. Il Mondo Nuovo. a performative Parallel Event with artists Mathew Emmett and Greig Burgoyne at Museo dell’Arte Classica, in Rome (2022). In 2016, she was the curator of Diminished Capacity the first Nigerian Pavilion at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia; and in 2013 she was the co-associate curator of Portable Nation. Disappearance as work in Progress – Approaches to Ecological Romanticism, the Maldives Pavilion at 55th International Art Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia. In 2018, she took part in the VVM at Tate Liverpool.