A Beautiful Haunting: A Solo Exhibition by Jolene Lai
A Beautiful Haunting, September 14th - October 5th, 2019
"I especially enjoy exploring the neighborhood I live in during late hours. There is something enigmatic about seeing houses lit up, illuminated against the stark darkness that envelops them at this hour. It was on one of those sleepless nights that I was out exploring and capturing the beauty of the array of homes that came alive and lured me with their inviting lights, that I stumbled upon an unexplored street that was just around the corner. I remembered the air just beginning to build up a cloud of misty fog that was thick with the intense pungence of jasmine.
The seemingly long and unending street had no name. It was all at once foreign with rows of strange looking houses on either side, yet familiar because several of them I was certain existed on some other streets I had walked down before. There was even a bonsai tree I came across that was distinct in shape, and for which I was sure belonged to apartment 769 on Oak Street. The further I walked, the more surreal it became. It was as if someone had picked up the houses I have come to know and appreciate over time, and planted them between others that were alien to me.
The fog dissipated by the time I got to the end of the lonesome street. I proceeded to turn around the corner and left the street with no name, never once turning my head back. I was filled with a deep sense of comfort and relief as each and every shrub, tree and house I passed were once more familiar and in place again. I continued my night observations, but never did cross paths with that peculiar street again."
A Beautiful Haunting, is a new collection of artwork that is inspired by this extraordinary encounter from many years ago. I want to construct a plane where what is relatable and comforting to us, comes to merge with emotions of unfamiliarity and unsettlement. The collection largely draws influences from popular film culture and children fiction books that I have grown up watching, reading and have come to love. Naming a few that I have referenced are films such as Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, the original TV series The Twilight Zone and novels like Adventures of the Wishing Chair by Enid Blyton. I particularly wanted to focus on extracting interesting key characters and elements from each story that many have come to recognize as household names, and challenge myself to reiterate them by misplacing them in urban landscapes and comfortable nooks that I have handpicked from actual documentations of my explorations of the neighborhoods I have visited.
The collection consists of a body of eighteen oil paintings and intimate drawings, as well as a large scale paper installation, and is an invitation to everyone from all walks of life that appreciates the little discoveries of something peculiar in the normal ordinary everyday.