i'd like to think i'm the mess you'd wear

Clarence Chun

June 1 - July 1, 2023


West Gallery proudly presents “I’d like to think I´m the mess you’d wear” a solo exhibit by Clarence Chun that explores the role of contemporary painting through the mode of abstraction in constructing a visionary hybrid language on the postmodern condition of information explosion, the speed of technological media and the spread of emerging cybernetic consciousness, the flow of cultural migrations and flux of global identities, while assembling an aesthetic upgrade of abstract expressionism, micropop, and the art of digital media.


Everything happens simultaneously viewed through one panoptic gaze in Clarence Chun´s paintings, illuminating the turbulent creation shaped about the emergence of something singularly undefinable – that pure instant, a vision of the moment assembled through fragments asymmetric to conscious intention, which by design instigates the reciprocity of its reading, to arrive at the sum of its parts, the parts self- generating despite the whole. Painting is active here, the viewer interacting with the work’s multiple points of view that span across the perimeter expanse. The contours of each image painted all around sum the territorial space that covers the surface, while the interior area collapses into fragmentary details, building consequently a quanta of phenomenal settings. Gravity, essential to establishing common orientation and the experience of figure to ground, is lost within the logic of this painting, which altogether circumvents the conditions of pure abstraction, including the imposing monumentality of its gestural being-in-itself. The uncertainty of sense and grounding is explored in Chun´s work with a plethora of paradoxes that creates a conundrum of movement. Whether fast or near inert, velocity proceeds here with an alchemical weight, going up or down regardless, as long as transmutation happens across passages. To render the invisible speed, painterly blurs round the sharp edges, altering the density of paint to explore its opacity and transparency. Saturated washes phase through impasto formations revealing rich layers of accumulated pigmented history. Swarms and streams of painterly drips propel the gestures divergent from the two dimensional flatness foregrounded by abstract expressionism; and instead, by reimagining three dimensional space as experienced within computer simulations, which toggle between scalar extent varying from each and every point, optical experience here adjusts to focus on details associated with ciphers coded by design. The pattern distribution and synthetic motion in the artist´s pictures produce a colorful diaspora of painterly events that direct their own destiny and narrative. In addition, the work’s malleable condition raises the question of place and the structures that contain, of architecture and the self. Hence, the drive towards an ontological presence that is explored through painting’s intuitive risk- taking is achieved in this case with an iterated density of scatter-space painterly marks and evolving shapes that become the painting´s abstract content. Consequently, we see expanding blobs, explosive spurts, penetrating stains, and rolling rings that resemble cloud formations, as well as forming in the mind the concept of a virtual cloud storage. In any case, the clouds and blobs could also function as an aesthetic counter to soften the hard edge abstraction of certain flat angular bands stretching across the pictorial field. The image of such dynamic viscous blobs animated as if firing synapses in the brain conjures a wetware analog to building signals throughout the neural network – a cybernetic plot of artificial intelligence. Chun´s paintings thus render an automated environment mediated by human consciousness, a tantalizing picture of the electronic sublime in the age of Big Data.


Clarence Chun received his MFA from the School of Visual Arts NY, BFA, Cum Laude at the University of Houston School of Art in Texas, and a Fellowship at Yale University School of Art. He currently lives and works in Manila and Honolulu, Hawaii. Clarence is a Honolulu Museum of Art Artists of Hawaii 2013, John Young Foundation Awardee and Ellen Battell Stoekel Fellow, Yale University. Selected exhibits at National Museum of the Philippines, Ayala Museum Artist Space, Honolulu Museum of Art, The Contemporary Austin, J. Wayne Stark University Galleries, Shore Art Gallery, Blue Star Art Space, Mono8 Gallery, Artery Art Space, Gallery Big, Blanc Gallery, Vinyl on Vinyl Gallery, West Gallery, Front Gallery, Houston, and Peter Augustus Gallery, Dallas.


Arvin Flores