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Kat Gu

Nominated by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

My attention lies with the desire and failure to be the ideal. An aesthetic manifests through the restless process of making “good” paintings in order to become the ideal painter. It discloses the finite resources of body and mind—my experience of being female—where the limits are set by the social construct. While acknowledging my inability to fully present and obtain oneself due to the interpellation of society, I then attach myself to the sense of loss in search for the ideal that perpetuates this assiduous action. Under such artistic, social and emotional contexts, I may labor excessively in cutting, breaking and reconstructing paintings-overwhelmed by a multitude of material choices and concerned about the ideal material. In this way, behavior and psychological (in)stability exhibit themselves through the means of art.

The work takes advantage of a “leakage” in both the norm of painting and of the body, playing on paintings’ charade of purity, self-confinement and seamlessness and the indefatigable perception of the female body as emotional, uncontrollable and incomplete. The physical process of “making” a painting involves adding a broad range of materials, primarily soft and malleable, including paint, fabric, and sponge rubber. Digital material is also incorporated into my work, in which the process involves choosing images from Google search that are visually similar to the physical work itself. Through the means of selecting images based on computer algorithms, the work reflects itself in a loop between the physical and the digital—a form of inability to escape and enter a “meaning-making” process when viewed. As a manifestation of my sense of loss, this speaks to the failure of establishing meaning for oneself.

Image: I Don’t Know How to be a Woman, laser print on fabric, laser print on transparent paper, acrylic, stretcher bar 48”x60”, steel rod, spray foam, sponge rubber, 80”x120”, 2017

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