June 8th, 2019
A+D Architecture & Design Museum
900 E 4th Street | Los Angeles, CA
The Alley Fellowship sponsored by RIOS supports the collaboration between architects and artists in order to extend the spectrum of work and artists the A+D showcases. The third exhibit in the series, Reshape, features the installation art of Adrian Kay Wong.
In Reshape, artist Adrian Kay Wong strips visual representation of its power by stretching, compacting, exaggerating, and reorganizing forms that structure environments. Taking the influence buildings and public spaces have beyond their physical entity as his focus, Wong explores the visual translation of real-world settings to painted surface.
Reshape touches upon these notions of image-making processes, but also alludes to implications of spatial identity and cultural authenticity in its decoding of the Mandarin Plaza in LA’s Chinatown. By deconstructing the Plaza to its most basic elements, Wong examines how design can construct methods of communication for exposing underlying narratives. Particularly, Chinatown’s paradoxical aesthetic of overly “Chinese” and yet palpably “American.”
The faux-authenticity of Chinatown’s decorative motifs and overt chinoiserie parallels Wong’s sentiment to his own ethnic background. Being too Asian “here” and too American “there” was, and still is, an enduring struggle. This installation postures: “What constitutes Chinatown beyond the ornamentelia? What aspects constitute our identities?”
Reshape evokes the necessity to consider the contextual, expand perspective, and question first impressions and preconceived notions. Without the pagoda rooftops, the dragons, the stone animal sculptures, Reshape offers a re-imagining of Chinatown and, possibly, a more authentic visual and narrative dissemination.