“Life is full of surprises. These unpredictable occurrences bring with them new opportunities for understanding and experiencing life. The mystery of what will happen next regardless of expectations or plans excites my curiosity…”
– Jiaxin Nong
This September, Artereal Gallery debuts the work of Melbourne-based artist Jiaxin Nong. Her first solo exhibition in Sydney, The gentle night, the gentle breath, presents a series of evocative and gestural abstract paintings created during the artist’s pregnancy with her first child. Soaked in wonderment and anticipation, Nong’s ethereal paintings represent the hopes and fantasies attached to the unfurling of new life, and document a transformative emotional journey that is at once deeply personal and at the same time intrinsically linked to universal experiences of motherhood.
In the first few weeks of Jiaxin Nong’s pregnancy, before she was even aware of the transformation that was happening inside her body, the artist experienced a series of mysterious and strangely hyperreal dreams. It was almost as though visions from her past were materialising in front of her eyes… Rewinding backwards through high school and her childhood, Jiaxin’s surreal dreams seemed to be based on a series of vividly conjured forgotten memories, pulling her back to a time where as a young child she would play games with her parents.
It was as though her body and her subconscious mind knew that change was coming. That a new life would be quite unexpectedly entering her world. That a cycle was about to repeated. That a new beginning had arrived…
“Life is full of surprises. These unpredictable occurrences bring with them new opportunities for understanding and experiencing life. The mystery of what will happen next regardless of expectations or plans excites my curiosity.
The interplay between order and the unexpected is an expressive drive within my work. The themes running through my work form via my experiences as I move through the differing states and stages of life. This series of paintings are a continuation of this intuitive, emotional and reflective process.
Painting as I am preparing for the birth of my first child, I find my thoughts lingering on modern women’s social status and experiences both as individuals and as members of various cultural groups. I find myself thinking of what it is that transcends language, region and ethnicity at the core of motherhood and in turn creation? There is a fear and fond anticipation of the unknown at play in this work.
We can logically understand many joyous and potentially problematic occurrences in painting. Just as we can logically anticipate each process taking place in pregnancy. But even with this knowledge there is no way to fully explain the unique experience of the woman who is to become a mother.
Pregnancy is lonely, but also unique. I am exploring and expressing my experience of this time through the adaptive language of abstraction. As my body morphs and changes with my growing baby, differing brush marks have emerged bringing with them a growing vitality to my impromptu painting game. Surprises will come along.”
– Jiaxin Nong, 2019
As her body slowly changed and transformed, so did Jiaxin’s paintings. Earlier works are defined by large, loose, sweeping gestures pulled across the canvas in bursts of dynamic energy. Now her mark-making became smaller and more contained. As her pregnancy developed, Jiaxin’s paintings became more intimate and detailed. Her softening into motherhood reflected in her new softer, paler palette.
The evolution of this body of artworks documents a journey. A metamorphosis. A creative birthing and a literal birthing. These paintings are imbued with the hopes and dreams of motherhood. They are soaked in wonderment and anticipation. They conjure the fantasy world into which an expectant mother escapes as she wonders about what will come next. They evoke the struggle and at times fear that all new mothers feel. They represent the transcendent refuge which all creatives turn to. They represent new life.
Experience Jiaxin Nong.