Han Wang’s General Tso’s Chicken Series speaks me on so many levels and they make me laugh with sheer joy every time I see them. Perfect porcelain simulacrums of chicken carcasses (right down to the knobbly neck bones) are covered in glazed patterns, ceramic decals, and gold leaf. As a serious foodie, and lover of the decorative arts, these speak to me in a way that is simultaneously exuberantly campy, but full of conceptual meat (pun intended).
Food is something that helps us put aside our tribalism, and lets us approach other cultures, albeit sometimes cautiously, to come closer to a pot of deliciously smelling nutrients, to give us an opportunity to learn from one another. Whole televisions shows are based on this notion, the late Anthony Bourdain being a prime example; we can wonder the world throughout disparate cultures, but once sitting around a table, strangers can become friends over the shared human experience of eating delicious food.
Wang’s Across the Ocean Project: General Tso’s Chicken #4 weaves food being a shared interest narrative, with the more darkly complex ideas of cultural appropriation. The beautiful blue floral patterns painted on the porcelains’ glaze, and the ceramic decals of orange bursting flowers are of historic Asian origin, but ones that have been appropriated, and re-appropriated ad nauseam in the decorative arts for several hundred years. These patterns caught between the authentic and Delftware reinterpretations are undeniably beautiful and revel in their hybridity. Seemingly post-ironically her title referrers to the Americanized-Chinese favorite dish General Tso’s Chicken. Like the patterns covering the chickens smooth surface, the title hints at hybridized and appropriated identities, and offers much food for thought.
While the bulk of my personal collection is Art Jewelry, it is also flushed out by antique furniture, and contemporary art.
My most recent (non-jewelry) acquisitions were “Study for Blue, Green, Yellow” by Jacque Liu, and before that a limited edition scarf made by Louise Bourgeois titled “She Lost It”. Both Liu’s and Bourgeois’ pieces share a soft, pastel, ethereal pallet, and though purchased only a year apart have very different aesthetic qualities and conceptual content.
I am drawn to things that strike me in the time and place I am in my life and that make something inside me click; I understand this thing, here and now. The voices of the artist or makers speak to me. I see the traces of the movement of their hands. My eyes fill with joy and appreciation for beauty.