548 West, New YorkMay 9 - 12, 2024

To Exist, and Co-exist

Tyra Johnson, Vanity Crisis

What is the meaning behind existence? This introspective question is certainly not foreign to the artistic sphere. Indeed, throughout the history of French philosophy, there have been constant attempts to dissect the nature of human existence, simultaneously pushing the boundaries of societal construct. But can the mysteries of existence really be unraveled?

Rousseau, for example, goes to great lengths to challenge the framework of society by imagining man in his natural state. Montaigne, known best for his essay on the cannibalistic Brazilian tribe, hypothesizes a peaceful co-existence of man with nature. Drawing upon this theme, FOCUS Art Fair features three artists from a diversity of backgrounds, all of whose introspective journeying seeks to probe deep into man’s nuanced relationship with both his natural surroundings and with his own origins.

Wilks Chaplin, Currently dreaming

The works of Tyra Johnson clearly reflect her passion for nature. Working with materials such as wood, quartz, and amethyst, Johnson creates installations and sculptures that immerse the viewer in natural landscapes from the artist’s travels. Similarly, artist Wilks Chaplin integrates the memory of her historical family estate in her artworks, thus creating powerful compositions that reflect the simplicity, vitality, and colour palette of her childhood home. Her use of mixed media on panel spotlights the powerful brush strokes that mimic nature’s rhythm. Both Johnson and Chaplin explore the ways in which identity and existence can be shaped by our natural setting.

Jaikyung Lee, Oneness 180301, Pigment on tube, 56✕130✕18cm

Artist Jaikyung Lee explores the theme of existence in a more primordial sense by depicting the human instinct of returning to our origins. Her artworks feature intense, dynamic, and atypical shapes with titles such as “Seed”, “Return to the Origin”, “Pursuit of the Ultimatum”. Coupled with this is the application of oriental brush strokes that mimic the bursts of power and energy of life. Johnson’s ironic ‘Vanity’ series also puts into question the constructs of human existence and instinct. Her work, “Vanity Crisis” (2021), using Apoxie clay and raw amethyst on mirror, chastises the warped societal perception of beauty. Therefore, by facilitating a wider understanding of ourselves, all three artists seek to re-establish our connection with nature, in which lies the mystery of our very origins and existence.