Half Breeds

January 8 – February 19, 2011

Reception for the Artist: Saturday, January 8, 6 – 9 pm


Los Angeles, CA - Sam Lee Gallery is pleased to present Half Breeds, a solo exhibition by New York-based artist Fay Ku. This show marks the artist’s 2nd solo exhibition at the gallery, and opens January 8 and closes February 19, 2011.  The gallery will host a reception for the artist on Saturday, January 8, from 6 to 9 pm. Other Chinatown galleries such as Charlie James, Sabina Lee, L2kontemporary, and Jancar will also host their respective openings on the same evening.


Fay Ku’s works on paper are psychological, narrative and figurative. In Half Breeds, Ku offers 7 large-scale, mixed media drawings that explore the idea of metamorphosis. Her work introduces to the viewer a world of disconcerting tableaux populated by a motley cast of mermaids and animals, all of them mutating into something else through raw and transgressive behaviors. Ku’s latest series stems from the artist’s interest in Greek mythology, folklore, fairy tales, and nature programs, all of which she subverts and applies to her own idiosyncratic, visual language.


Ku is invested in the off-key, where nothing is quite what it seems. Drawn with incredible delicacy on white or black paper, her figures appear often isolated and displaced, thus emphasizing the sheer strangeness of the situation or scene at hand. Aesthetically, her drawings resemble ukiyo-e (pictures of the floating world) but they differ in content and never lack in angst or aggression. As an immigrant, Ku is a natural observer of human behavior. She states that her “characters explore the fluidity of identity—sexual, cultural, personal and political—and the ambiguity in relationships with one another.”


Owl Hunt II (2010), a 50 1/2-by-59 1/2 in. graphite and metallic watercolor on black Stonehenge paper,  depicts a hunting scene where two draped female figures are holding speared owls, racing away from a flock of angry owls also swarming from above. Initial viewing yields familiarity, a common occurrence in life where the predator takes the prey. However, closer inspection reveals a darker and more disturbing narrative. Even though the birds look like birds, their countenances resemble that of a human. They are half beasts, half humans. Are the hunters killing their own species?


In Assimilation (2010), a graphite and watercolor drawing measuring 50 1/2-by-72 inches, two seasoned mermaids face two younger ones, all exquisitely rendered and set against an ambiguous background. The older, bespectacled mermaid holds a pair of scissors while the younger, already with a 2nd pair of shears in hand, splits her fishtail lengthwise into 2 segments, transforming her lower region into legs. The mutilation is self-induced. Why is the mermaid doing this to herself? Would the alteration to being more “human” make her existence better than before?  The answers to such mystery are not all that clear. Ku posits that “within a single work, the concepts are often layered to yield multiple readings rather than one narrative. I am interested in the nuances of meaning.”


Ku was born in Taipei, Taiwan, and now works and lives in Brooklyn, New York. She earned her Master of Fine Arts in Drawing and Master of Arts in Art History from Pratt Institute in 2006, and her dual Bachelor of Arts in Literature and Visual Arts from Bennington College in 1996. Recent solo exhibitions include Face All Eyes, Eyes All Hands at The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu, HI,  New/Now at New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, CT, and Surface Tension  at Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT. Ku is a recent recipient of the following awards:  Chashama Visual Arts Studio Grant (2010), New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship (2009), and Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant (2007).


Digital images are available for press purposes.  Please email (info@samleegallery.com) for reproduction requests.


Sam Lee Gallery is located at 990 North Hill Street #190, Los Angeles, CA  90012, Phone 323-227-0275, Facsimile 323-227-0256. Gallery hours are Wednesday to Saturday, 12 to 6 pm and by appointment. For detailed information, please visit the gallery’s website, www.samleegallery.com.