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Art

#animals#birds#Gigi Chen#painting#surreal

In ‘A Collective Glow,’ Gigi Chen’s Surreal Acrylic Paintings Channel Togetherness and Safety

June 18, 2024

Kate Mothes

an acrylic painting on a wood panel of a bluebird with a heart on its breast, perched in a painted frame, which has been cut and shaped around the edges

“From Above” (2023), acrylic on wood, 15 x 11 ⅛ inches. All images © Gigi Chen, shared with permission

Bluebirds are often associated with happiness, love, hope, and positivity, making them an apt subject for New York-based artist Gigi Chen (previously), whose surreal paintings of wildlife merge the animal kingdom with symbols of home, comfort, and connection.

In her forthcoming solo exhibition A Collective Glow at Beinart Gallery in Melbourne, Chen continues to explore emotional ties between animals and the environment. In “A Sparrow’s Song,” a bird’s body radiates with neon pink hearts, while in “A Collective Glow,” half a dozen house sparrows stitch up a gleaming cavity in a pigeon’s breast.

Chen’s newest series considers the relationship between nature and mythology along with autobiographical narratives of the complexities of family, safety, love, and a sense of belonging. Her works incorporate otherworldly, dream-like imagery that draws on childhood associations with movies and television featuring magical animals. “The paintings prominently feature creatures—usually birds—acting as conduits for Chen and her own stories,” says a gallery statement.

A Collective Glow runs from June 23 to July 17. Find more on Chen’s website and Instagram.

an acrylic painting of six house sparrows with pink thread in their beaks, stitching up a glowing red cavity in a pigeon's breast

“A Collective Glow” (2022), acrylic on wood, 22.5 x 32 inches

a vertical acrylic painting of a deceased sparrow with a series of neon pink hearts emanating from its chest

“A Sparrow’s Song” (2024), acrylic on wood, 12 x 18 inches

an egret at the shoreline among some reeds, glowing in the light of some candles on rocks, one of which is shaped like a house

“Burn So Bright” (2024), acrylic on wood, 18 x 24 inches

an acrylic painting of a young deer eating grass, looking at the viewer, with a pink crystal on its forehead

“At a Glance” (2024), acrylic on wood, 11 x 14 inches

an acrylic painting of a white horse walking on the banks of a river, with glowing yellow spots in the background like fireflies

“Murmurations” (2024), acrylic on wood, 21.5 x 14.5 inches

an acrylic painting on a wood panel of a bluebird with a star on its breast, perched in a painted frame, which has been cut and shaped around the edges

“From Within” (2024), acrylic on wood, 15 x 11 ⅛ inches

an acrylic painting of a white speckled horse eating on the shore of some water, with dense foliage behind it

“Midnight” (2024), acrylic on wood, 20 x 24 inches

#animals#birds#Gigi Chen#painting#surreal

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