Tess Weitwo in a lake

8 June — 8 August 2024

  • Tess Wei

two in a lake

two in a lake

Opening 7 June, 6 — 9pm The group of monochrome paintings that comprise Tess Wei’s two in a lake emerged from murky memories of wading into lakes. Feet groping tentatively along the lake bottom—fear, desire, uneasiness—an early encounter with the unknown. The way in which vision acclimates to darkness is another apt analogy for the experience of looking at their works. Such night vision comes gradually, just as extended looking reveals details in Wei’s nominally black paintings: the drag of a finger, myriad variations in texture, a deep blue underbelly, a rusty red that seems to bubble to the surface. Both Wei’s process and the works themselves have a contingent quality, as the paintings change with shifts in light and perspective. Wei builds up layers of sand, wax, and oil on board, then works into this congealed material with a wide range of brushes and instruments. The topography of the paintings appears almost tectonic, their crustaceous quality like earth that has accumulated and eroded, corroded and regenerated. Wei takes such a pace as both stance and subject, imagining how slowness, duration, and (day)dreams become a means of resisting a contemporary cult of progress and acceleration, and re-framing the realities and futures of climate change. Wei charts their own course in a lineage of black paintings pitched at transcendence via slick geometries (Reinhardt, Stella etc.), eschewing symmetry and a mythos of purity to suggest instead that vision is anything but universal. Tess Wei’s two in a lake—the Philadelphia-based artist’s first exhibition in Europe—lifts its title from the last line of Ocean Vuong’s "Immigrant Haibun." Read here. Recent solo exhibitions include D.D.D.D., New York, 2023; Larry Becker Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, 2022; and AUTOMAT, Philadelphia, 2020. Wei received an MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 2020.