The Curators: Why BACKWORDS?

Surface : Context

curator: Jenny M. Chu

Context is everything. I’ve heard this. You’ve heard this. And context probably isn’teverything, but it’s certainly in the composition. Sometimes a glint, sometimes luminous.

It wasn’t until I was in a painting class that I realized what “context” actually meant. It happened on a night when the instructor decided to start the workshop by projecting slides of paintings. The slideshow consisted of some renaissance and some baroque, some impressionism, maybe there was a Renoir or a Monet, and to be honest, I don’t remember it all. But what I do remember was being told that some of those pieces were created from layers of paint, some a few feet thick, that the color we were seeing on the screen (a projected image from a slide of a painting’s surface) was only possible because of the paint underneath. It was the first time I understood. The first time I appreciated renaissance portraits of pensive white faces or impressionism’s still-lifes of fruit bowls.

And what about Picasso’s mystery man underneath The Blue Room?

How many times have we dismissed something for its surface? Because the surface was too unfamiliar, too anomalous, too, in other words, inaccessible? Or how many times have we dismissed a surface because it was too familiar?

Why the shape? Why the aubergine? A parking lot? Why cobalt? Why a stroke and not a dapple? A tinny instead of brass? Bass instead of tar? Why a rat? Rust? A dance?

The way we make meaning is complex and the forms manifested abound. It is innumerable. It is everywhere and everyday.

A friend once said, “you should care about the depth in the surface – it’s better.”

This project, for me,

is exactly that.


curator: Phillip Trey

Backwords is a new adventure and an attempt to confront what I want to know more about.

Art is all around us. It can be displayed in gilded galleries, or stamped in the sides of buildings. Art can be found amongst the notes of your favorite song, or even in the layout of the park you pass by everyday.

Backwords is a foray into how things around us came to be. The idea to start Backwords was inspired in part by a class my friend Jenny and I took at a local art museum. The exhibit at the time was the Tuileries Garden. It was there that I found inspiration and wanted to foster that feeling of awakening. In the past most of my art wanderings have been focused on the literary si