Nova Jiang

May 23 - Jun 22, 2024

Opening: May 23rd, 6 - 8PM

Simone Subal Gallery is pleased to present Lesson, Nova Jiang’s first solo exhibition with the gallery.

Nova Jiang’s intimate paintings seem frozen in time, like stolen moments bathed in the rippling light of memory or magic. Juxtaposing the broken and the whole, the living and the dead, the animal and the human, Jiang transforms loss into growth, sadness into fertility. Lesson, from which the exhibition takes its title, depicts two books fused together along the spine, opening away from each other, like a four-winged creature tensed to fly. A child’s hands hold the small blank pages open to the viewer. A pair of larger hands opens the second book in the opposite direction. Its contents, and reader, remain out of sight. A parent perhaps? Or an influence, long dead? Unseen and unknowable, the other side of the story is stitched into the binding. Jiang mines the mystery of inheritance and the anxiety of loss throughout the exhibition, imbuing everyday objects with a talismanic significance.

In Milkgiver, Vermeer’s earthenware jug pours milk into an open nipple. Suffused with rich golden light, the uncanny image is ambiguous. The body being nourished or a refusal of an offering? The image speaks to a sense of artistic lineage, a transfusion of one painter to another through time and space. Jiang brings together references to the seventeenth century Dutch masters, Velasquez and Chardin, and Chinese ceramic, sculpture and painting. In News, a vase of daisies and lilies shatters in slow motion. Each glossy blue fragment is suspended, held together by milky white ceramic cicatrices. Transformed into something shiny, broken, and new. Like Rachel Ruysch, who often depicted flowers that bloom in different seasons, Jiang’s still lives exist outside of time, twisting up personal and historical chronologies into unstable tangles – winding a red thread around the fingers of the living and the dead.

Throughout the exhibition, Jiang catches tadpoles, frogs and birds – trapping them inside a bulbous cheek, turning them to glass, and splaying them open. The natural world becomes unstable and on the point of collapse. Amphibians, one of the animals most acutely affected by climate change, are cared for by Jiang’s supple brush. Quietly, tenderly, Nova Jiang slips through the ages to trap time, and its lessons, between her fingers.

Nova Jiang (b. 1985 in Dalian, China) lives and works in Los Angeles. Jiang's work often references the art historical cannon, subverting its traditions with a subtle morbid humor. Throughout her paintings, she plays with themes of death and decay, depicting them in a glowing light. Recent solo exhibitions include: Union Pacific, London, UK (2023, 2021); Enjoy Public Art Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand (2014); and Sunroom Project Space, Wave Hill, New York, US (2012). Selected group exhibitions include: Simone Subal Gallery, New York, US (2022); Honor Fraser, Los Angeles, US (2021); LAMAG, Los Angeles, US (2020); Wave Hill, New York, US (2017, 2020); Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles, US (2019); PSLA, Los Angeles, US (2019); Condo Shanghai, Gallery Vacancy, Shanghai, China (2019); LACI | AIR, Los Angeles, US (2018); LAXART, Los Angeles, US (2018); Denk Gallery, Los Angeles, US (2017); Somerset House, London, UK (2016, 2017); Jepson Center, Telfair Museums, Savannah, US (2016); Singapore Science Center, Singapore (2015); Ars Electronica Center, Linz, Austria (2014, 2015); Future Innovators Summit, Linz, Austria (2014); CAFKA.14 Biennial, Kitchener-Waterloo, Canada (2014); Laiterie Les Bouillants, Vern-sur-Seiche, France (2014); Studio 13/16, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France (2013); Art Museum of Nanjing University of The Arts, Nanjing, China (2013); ICC, Tokyo, Japan (2013); Espace Saint-Sauveur, Paris, France (2013); Warp Contemporary Art Platform, Sint-Niklaas, Belgium (2013); National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung, Taiwan (2012); Seoul Art Space_Geumcheon, Seoul, South Korea (2012); iMAL, Brussels, Belgium (2012); OK Offenes Kulturhaus, Linz, Austria (2012); and SESI-SP Art Gallery, Fiesp Cultural Center, São Paulo, Brazil (2012). Nova Jiang has also created numerous permanent art commissions for public spaces, including: San Diego International Airport Vertical Ticketing Hall, San Diego, US (2024, forthcoming); SE Redmond Station, Redmond, US (2024, forthcoming); Ella B. Scarborough Community Resource Center, Charlotte, US (2023); SAFE Credit Union Performing Arts Center, Sacramento, US (2021); King Open Elementary, Cambridge, US (2019); and The Village at Westfield Topanga, Los Angeles, US (2015).