The Savage Sea • Liv Vinluan

Aug 7 to Aug 30, 2014 • Tall Gallery

In the beginning of the production for this show I had started to look into maritime, nautical vessels. Particularly struck with the idea of the vessel, an image of a singular desolate boat, buoyant and bobbing up and down on undulating waters appeared starkly in my head.

A vessel, by definition, may be a ship or a boat, a means of transport to bring often precious cargo from one place to another. It may as well mean a vein, the artery of an organ—particularly the heart—carrying blood throughout different parts of the human body so that it may live. Lastly, it can be a hollow, enclosed container, able to hold liquids. Much like a carafe holding red wine, much like veins carrying blood.

The vessel can be filled until maybe, it reaches its capacity, and so then it can be sent off from the harbor, just as how a teacher would send off their wards once they believe they have had their fill of wisdom.

The Savage Sea tells stories of the vessel, and its metaphorical contents as a body floating on what is essentially, another body—water—deep and tempestuous and unpredictable. In the painting The Swells, we see a picture crammed full of swells of ultramarine blue. Here and there, flotsam and jetsam bob in the folds of blue, discarded and maybe forgotten. Smoke billows, an indication of the remains of what was burnt and lost. As it moves up, joins and disseminates into the wind it also carries with it the memory of something which once was buoyant and afloat. The circular composition of oceans in the diptych The Savage Sea is a nod to the round earth and its waters so captivated and oft navigated by its curious terrestrial tenants. Its composition too, is a nod to the possibility of the non-linearity of chronology. A panorama of rolling waves, The Undulating Sea is witness to limbs and tree trunks thrashing about. Three-paneled and divided, it is broken up into parts while still forming a coherent whole. Our line of vision moves from left to right, or from right to left, and we are met with a horizon of competing, layered blues, crashing about, rolling in.

For all its varied definitions it all seems to convey, in the end, the same thing: the vessel transports, carries and brings from one place to another. It moves, travels and traverses. It voyages, and it must work and navigate with the sea, and its fulfilled, successful crossing depends on the state of what it carries—that it still may be whole and intact when it reaches its destination. Fragmented, patched and fissured maybe, but still whole.

—-L. R Vinluan