Reimagining scenes from her childhood, Sasha Gordon creates vibrant worlds brimming with quotidian particulars incongruous with reminiscence’s elusive nature. Utilizing vibrant coloured pencils and neon oil paints, the Brooklyn-based painter depicts variations of herself participating within the leisure actions typical of her suburban upbringing in Westchester County, New York. Whereas her palette is usually unnaturally electrical, Gordon takes care to seize naturalistic particulars, similar to delicate eyelashes and particular person stitches on denims and sneakers. Her topics seem virtually childlike, with giant, glassy eyes so dilated they resemble onyx orbs set in equally spherical faces. Regardless that Gordon’s figures get pleasure from leisurely actions—they observe archery, play the violin, or camp within the woods—there’s a palpable sense of unease in her work.
Describing her experiences rising up as a biracial Asian lady in a predominantly white and heteronormative neighborhood throughout a digital studio go to, Gordon instructed me, “Every little thing I did felt like I used to be performing for males, particularly white males.” To reverse this dynamic, she populates her scenes completely with characters created in her personal picture. This implies males are markedly absent. Nonetheless, her figures seem on edge with their compelled, uneasy smiles, implying that they’ve nonetheless internalized the strain to adapt to a selected mannequin of higher center class white suburban comportment.
For her second solo exhibition, on view at Matthew Brown in Los Angeles by means of July 10, the current RISD graduate implicates the viewer as the reason for her topics’ apprehension. The present’s title, “Enters Thief,” mimics a stage command, and means that guests are infiltrating a spot the place they don’t belong—proper on cue. As an alternative of an object, nonetheless, we steal the sense of security and luxury that comes with privateness. Usually, viewing the work, we discover ourselves disrupting intimate moments: a bathe, a romantic date by a pond.
Gordon’s new work cope with the psychological results of being watched. In Live performance Mistress (2021) and Sore Loser (2021), her protagonists are noticed by others throughout the composition, and by us outdoors of it. Within the former portray, the topic, pushed to the foreground, performs the violin to an unseen viewers, her face contorted into an virtually menacing grin. Behind her, a head peeps over the sting of the window, lurking. Fulfilling the mannequin minority stereotype that expects excellence on a regular basis, the girl anticipates being watched and performs accordingly, a sentiment Gordon shares. “I really feel like I’ve to be a sure sort of Asian lady, a sure sort of queer individual, a sure sort of physique dimension,” Gordon stated. “I’ve all the time been very hyperaware, and I believe that’s a giant facet of my work.” In reality, Gordon used to play the violin, however deserted the instrument as a result of she felt embarrassed by the stereotype of the naturally gifted Asian musician.
In a method, Gordon is making up for misplaced time by filling her work with queer Asian girls like herself, individuals she didn’t have in her life till she entered faculty. And but, her characters are unable to flee rivalries, comparability, and competitors. Within the diptych The Archer (2021), one panel depicts a shirtless lady pointing her arrow out on the viewer. Mirrored in her left eye, we see the topic of the accompanying panel—one other shirtless lady balancing a shiny crimson apple on her head. With a slight frown, the second lady seems forlorn and dejected as she weakly alerts a thumbs-up, ignoring the arrows scattered round her ft—proof of the archer’s imprecision. The 2 halves of the diptych are exhibited on reverse partitions, catching viewers within the crossfire between the archer and the goal. Contemplating the same appearances of each topics, the work will be learn as a struggle towards oneself, or as a battle between these with overlapping identities.
“There’s a wall that’s nonetheless separating me from this neighborhood,” Gordon instructed me, particularly referring to her “queerness and struggles with psychological sickness.” Oftentimes, this division manifests in her work by means of juxtapositions of two Asian girls: one with a neon gradient pores and skin tone and one other with a extra naturalistic complexion, as in Backyard Troll (2021). Beneath their shiny particulars and tantalizing colour palettes, Gordon’s scenes emphasize the issue that accompanies imagining utopian areas unburdened by internalized hegemonic values. However she boldly and playfully retains imagining nonetheless.