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‘matter is matter that doesn't matter’

16 December - 20 January 2024

Jo Wu, Lisette de Greeuw, Meng-Hsuan Chin

The title came to me when I started looking at the similarities between each of our approaches to material.While Lisette works with textile and Meng-Hsuan and me with oil paint, we seem to all create and put certain amount of focus on either the behavioural quality of the chosen material — the “matter”, or the rules we have connoted through our relationship working with that material. In other words, while there is indeed a subject behind our work, the manner of working with the material to translate the subject is no less important than the subject of the work. Therefore, the manner is interdependent with the subject.Also, I connect it with humility: the artists, their subject/ problem, their intellect, and the material matter, are all interdependent in the process of creation;Without any of which, like the title suggests, none of these would matter.The last side note and reference came from a friend's immediate association with the most profound statement in the Buddhist classicThe Heart Sutra,“Form is emptiness, emptiness is form.” In this sense, matter, be it the material, mannerism, or traceable form, is the result and cause of what we as artists process through living and being.What matters is perhaps the whole of it, the visible and thinkable matter as well as the non-matter, and it is where we would like to meet our audience.

When I first met Lisette, we talked about the words “text” and “textile” sharing the same word root. It gave me an insight into the activity of weaving and how it is not far apart from writing: one arranges the warp and weft and the other the sequence words. Etel Adnan (1925-2021) once wrote: “Painters have a knowledge which goes beyond words.” This is a notion I believe Meng-Husan and I both share. She and I studied literature and language before we started taking up painting as our working medium.While working to encounter meaning in painting, language always and almost serves to be the counterbalance within this consideration. Ultimately, I’m interested in showing how we intervene in reality, not through words but a small wordplay of the title that introduces the audience to this intervention.

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