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Artist in Residence: Angie Pai

Artist in Residence: Angie Pai
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Upon the arrival of the new lunar year, we asked Melbourne-based Taiwanese artist Angie Pai to grace Assembly Label stores with her work. Our first 2023 Artist in Residence, Angie has emerged as a rising star who draws from the tensions she experiences at the intersection of Western and Eastern cultures, and whose youth belies her oeuvre and introspection. To extol the work of a local artist on the ascent and to mark the Lunar New Year, relief sculptures from Angie’s upcoming solo exhibition will be displayed in our Fitzroy, QV and Paddington stores.

 

Photography Tasha Tylee
Photography Tasha Tylee

 

It’s from a place of tremendous pressure that great things are formed — diamonds, stars, and sometimes, art. Tensions that threaten to uproot the self and spark chaos can also be a fecund source of possibility and enrichment, and it’s from this point that the work of artists like Angie Pai emerges.
Born in Taichung, Taiwan, Angie Pai lives in Melbourne, the city her parents migrated to in the ’90s. Her concept of home isn’t defined by a set of geographic coordinates — during the Covid pandemic her parents made the decision to settle back in Taiwan — so in Angie’s words, home describes a mind space. “If I can inwardly and physiologically be at ease, if I am free to nourish myself without inhibitions, if I feel recharged after periods of exhaustion, I would be happy calling such a place home,” she says of that space.

 

“Western ideology leans towards individualistic outlooks, while eastern doctrines are found upon collectivist mentalities. My works draw from the tensions I experience at the intersection of these cultures.”

 

The tensions that Angie’s work draws from exist at the intersection between two cultures, her life in Melbourne, and her Taiwanese heritage. “Western ideology leans towards individualistic outlooks, while eastern doctrines are founded upon collectivist mentalities. Because of this, societal norms within these cultures can directly oppose one another,” Angie explains. At times, she loses herself to a sense of duty and familial expectations “that are deeply enmeshed into the fabric of Eastern culture”. On the other hand, she adds, “coming out of difficult conversations with my parents will always be most enriching. The mutual shedding of previously held beliefs allows me to feel hopeful [about the] state of the world”.

 

Photography Tasha Tylee
Photography Tasha Tylee

 

Family history, and the emotional, at times triggering process of connecting with that history, will be a recurring theme “until my very last work”, says Angie, “albeit with shifts in perspective and knowledge from encounters along the way.” In recent years, many of those encounters and shifts have been fortuitous ones. Angie says her community in Melbourne, “my people” as she refers to them, have saved her from “dark spells of self-doubt, self-mistrust and self-sabotage”. She is also a recent Psychology graduate. Naturally, her studies illuminated her practice, sparking “new ideas of interest and providing scientific rigour to back up personal revelations”. This academic insight is perhaps reinforced by Taoist philosophy, which allows Angie to carve out space for competing ideologies to co-exist. As she eloquently puts it: “Practicing Taoist philosophy offers relief when I’m confused, as the teachings are often intentionally ambiguous. The fluidity in ways the core tenets can be cultivated grants freedom to live in compliance with ‘DIY’ hybridised principles.”

 

“I love the cathartic process and weight of my large relief works. They are my anchors.”

 

With the guidance of her own psychologist, whose “life-changing” impact encouraged Angie to study psychology, Angie has learned that her art may be one of her greatest allies. “I can experience intense emotional dysregulation, followed by episodes of fatigue,” shares Angie, who has ADHD. “My practice has harnessed these ‘bursts of energy’ in conducive ways, while the cool down allows space for exploring curiously.” Her favourite projects to work on, at least for the moment, are her large relief works.“I love the cathartic process and the weight… They are my anchors.”
This April, Angie is releasing a book titled Why You Like This, chronicling 10 years of her creative endeavours. It will launch alongside a solo exhibition at Melbourne’s ACAE Gallery. Reflecting on those last 10 years, Angie says the biggest change she’s seen in herself as an artist has been “how firm my intentions are now, for practicing art”. What has remained unwavering are her values, that guide every decision she makes, and the creative inspiration behind every work — her parents. Her heroes.

 

Further Reading

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