I ART, THEREFORE I AM is a joint exhibition by two female artists Chi Chi Cheng (Hong Kong) and Rose Liang (Beijing). Resonating with Rene Descartes’s famous quote “I think, therefore I am”, Cheng and Liang see art making as a journey of self-exploration through extensive thought processing. The outcome is discovering truth and knowledge of their True Self, and accepting the truth of not-knowing is a necessary step to knowing oneself.
As a former hotelier, Cheng is interested in exploring the ethics of Hospitality. In her large format immersive installation “What happens when a human enters a whale?”, Cheng attempts to decode a statement made by French philosopher Jacque Derrida “We do not know what hospitality is. Not yet. Not yet, but will we ever know?”. Through visualizing Derrida’s deconstruction theory on unconditional and conditional hospitality, Cheng “deconstructs” a scenario where the acts of hospitality can be complex and difficult, raising questions on how one should react when encountering strangers, new-comers, foreigners, immigrants, refugees and orphans etc. She wishes to invite viewers to explore in depth the word Hospitality beyond its textual meaning, and enquire times when they experienced the contradiction inherent within the word “hospitality”.
Rebelling against the social expectations of aesthetic value and womanhood, Liang explores the inner significance of the female figure through repeatedly drawing her own figure. Her conscious effort of distorting physical beauty into a harmonious reality of her own allows her to understand herself from different perspectives, and more importantly, to find answers to her questions on her own identity and existence. The fluidity of her lines and dynamic disposition together is a celebration of femininity without portraying women as objects of desire. Embedded within her work are the ideas of constant flux within body and emotion. Liang’s works encourage viewers to survive and thrive within one’s own empowerment and to be totally free of societal expectations.
Although the two artists take very different approaches to explore their own self, they both share the same vision – to search for a deeper connection to their inner self through art. One must know him/herself well in order to connect to the outside world while staying grounded. This is a showcase of the awakening adventures of two visionary explorers within their own infinite universe, trying to comprehend their inner selves and the nature of reality.