UP Gallery is pleased to present Constructed Realities, a two-person exhibition by artists Mia Liu and Sameer Tawde. Ever since the 1960s, photography took on an important role in relation to contemporary art. It provided the means to document an act and disrupt the understanding of the real. These qualities are specifically evident amongst Earth art and Tableau photography. The former which began in the late 1960s with leading artists like Robert Smithson, and the latter in the 1980s such as Sandy Skoglund, all came to influence artists today. As the art world continues to flourish under these influences grew new perspectives and through this exhibition, we hope to share Liu’s and Tawde’s breakthroughs under these two realms of art.
The root of Liu’s artistic practice gravitates around “installation drawing”, known for her paper sculptures, paintings and installations in recent years she has developed a new strand of photography works the In Between series. Liu’s concept of “installation drawing” when executed through photography cleverly manipulates the understanding of “planes”. Seeking outdoor locations, the ambiguity of the natural climate such as wind and sunlight are at play. Akin to Earth art upon first glance, Liu breaks away from a studio and embraces the natural environment while gripping the documentation qualities of the camera to present her works. Yet she actively “draws” with textures foreign to nature, and creates works that are seen as “In between” of the real and unreal. These works are multilayered and deconstructed, from her performance-like process of drawing on-site and to the final presentation of photographic imagery, the works are a form of optical illusion. Liu seeks to further challenge her unique process and its relations between image-making on paper, canvas and land. Boundaries collapse in her practice, for drawing no longer confined to a medium, her works flows seamlessly through nature’s land, various materials and photographic imagery. What viewers are left with is no longer a reality of a specific surface, but striking manifestations constructed from Liu’s hand.
In 2018 Tawde’s series Dialogues of an Introvert was first exhibited in the gallery space. As an ongoing series, we present eight new works in this exhibition. Tawde creates works by using everyday objects and settings while placing them in new situations and novel routes. He draws attention to the separation and sometimes alienation, between the self and the outside world. Attempting to suggest new contexts of connecting human beings to their infrastructure and environment. The imagery centres around illusions and is achieved with an approach of making sculptures, setting up life-size installations on locations or miniature sets, we have incorporated a few of these miniature sets in the exhibition. Although the dose of surrealism and creating sets mimics the quality of Tableau photography, Tawde takes on a more traditional approach with his concepts. His work is based on the opposing concept of the real and the imaginary through the lens of the camera and his mind. Rather than proliferating on only the imaginary and fantasy world, small clues are interlaced in his works which draws viewers back to his main emphasis: a social, political and environmental commentary. Under these dreamlike realities are in fact a portrayal of his understandings of global issues and dilemmas of humanity.
Rather than debating on photography’s role of providing a reality, its ontology of the real exhibition explores artists embracing its documentation qualities to incorporate performance and staged aspects to the final image, challenging the boundaries not limited to photography itself but contemporary art as a whole. As references from Earth art and Tableau photography can be drawn, both strive to leave a personalised differentiation. Liu with her textures foreign to nature experiments with new “planes” and Tawde merging illusions with the documentary of real events. What is laid before our eyes are, therefore great works of a constructed reality.