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“Language of Form,” By Haoyun Erin Zhao & Sofia Shu (SF)

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Saturday, August 5, 2023 - 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm | Cost: FREE*

Heron Arts | 7 Heron St, San Francisco, CA

Event Details

Heron Arts is pleased to announce, LANGUAGE OF FORM, a new exhibition featuring Haoyun Erin Zhao and Sofia Shu, two multidisciplinary artists based in San Francisco. The opening reception for LANGUAGE OF FORM is Saturday, August 5th, 2023 from 5-9pm, where the artists will be in attendance. The exhibition is free and open to the public until September 2nd by appointment only.

Haoyun Erin Zhao is a Chinese American artist who wrangles various forms of media in vibrant jewel tone palettes of translucent, overlapping organic shapes with a complimentary, warm and cool color palette that overwhelms the senses. Sofia Shu, originally from Siberia, uses the vast white space of paper, like a backdrop canvas made of snow, to explore spatial relations through painted hypnotic repetitive patterns that can quiet the mind with symmetry, balanced by soft earth tone shades. These two bodies of work exhibited together for the first time, features paintings on canvas and works on paper. LANGUAGE OF FORM is an amalgamation of their unique perspectives, each with their approach to convey meaning, introspection, and visual journeys into the unknown. These examples of visual information are intended to elevate non-objective abstract imagery into translatable forms of language that are subversive and subjective. With Zhao’s dedication to color theory and swooping shapes interacting and teetering in space, and Sofia Shu’s kinetic-like infinite geometric mazes, each is like a conductor guiding a symphony to harmony creating a visual language that is meditative and joyful.
In June, Zhao had the unique opportunity to complete some of her work featured in the show as a recipient of the Golden Foundation for the Arts, artist in residence program in upstate New York. Zhao has been challenging herself in a ‘return to form’ through simplified media by revisiting two-dimensional interpretations of her visual language on large scale acrylic painted canvases with prismatic airbrush gradients. In the artist’s recent series “Letter to the Unknown,” Zhao exercises curiosity into an imagined conversation with her past or future self. Through intuitive mark making as an unconscious way to tap in, without a premeditated composition, the spontaneity results in a boomerang effect of bouncing back energy through shape and color. Stepping out of her comfort zone of experimenting with new materials, Zhao’s new work aims to combine familiar shapes with rich colors that evoke emotion or sensations like synesthesia, to create something ambiguous that also can feel like home or a sense of belonging.
Haoyun Erin Zhao’s work calls to mind our predecessors of color theory. Josef Albers emphasized that “color, as the most relative medium in art, has innumerable faces or appearances. To study them in their respective interaction, or in the independence, will enrich our ‘seeing,’ our world- and ourselves.” While Johannes Itten, responsible for essential color wheels we rely on today, focused on seven fundamental categories of contrast: hue, light-dark, cold-warm, complementary, analogous, saturation, and extension.” Zhao combines many of these elements presented in the polarities known effects of color interactions. Trompe l’oeil, or deceiving the eye, with the vibrations of juxtaposed complimentary colors of equal shades, provides possibilities for wide ranges of emotion and relations to the elements found in nature, wind, water, earth, and fire.
Sofia Shu is classically trained in art as a youth in Siberia until she was twenty years old. Shu originally studied architecture which led her to a career in interior design, a practice that informs her work to this day. Shu describes her long nine-month winters as infinite space, and the magic in the contrast to the dark starry skies, alive and swirling beyond comprehension, yet static. The artist attributes these early memories as an origin story for her frozen symmetrical patterns, like an unconscious reflection of snowflake structures under a microscope, rigid worlds of ice that encapsulated her environment. After moving to the states, Shu found herself immersed in a prolific world of artists in New York City that lit a fire in her. Determined to alleviate the stress of a 9-5, she devised a plan to devote herself solely to her own art, which eventually took precedence over a successful interior design career. It is no accident that Shu’s work is informed by a focus on Zen teachings, meditation, and Eastern philosophies. Shu believes the painter can be a conduit for higher consciousness and exemplifies that in her paintings as an act of meditation or a portal to come into contact with the beyond. Like butterfly wings of symmetry, Shu’s beautifully patterned designs take flight into the parts of the mind that require more breadth of space and an overall calming effect. During the creative process Shu enjoys studying esoteric history, astrology, plant medicine, singing bowls and uses meditative music to transport her into the space where her work exists. Studying ancient symbols from cultures from around the world, sound frequencies, weaving and handmade crafts also inform her work. The pathways that wrap her compositions with infinite parallel and knotted lines, could be viewed as orbital patterns found in the universe, biological connectivity, kinetic sculpture designs, or a map to an ancient temple orientated to the East and West rising and setting of the sun. While subtle, experimentation with muted monochromatic pastels ranging from shades of clay, water, and moss, the vibrational effects ripple while gazing deeper into the abyss, the viewer is refreshed through visual non-verbal communication.
With respects to Masaru Emoto’s, The Hidden Messages in Water, “Emoto demonstrates how water exposed to loving, benevolent, and compassionate human intention results in aesthetically pleasing physical molecular formations in the water, while water exposed to fearful and discordant human intentions results in disconnected, disfigured, and “unpleasant” physical molecular formations.” Considering Emoto’s discoveries and what we know now about human consciousness and the necessity to prioritize mental health to promote well being, Sofia Shu and Haoyun Erin Zhao are intentionally creating a visual language as a vehicle for healing and exploration. LANGUAGE OF FORM is a gift for themselves and others, to find a moment where time stands still, to see the world and feel uninhibited, for a moment of bliss.

Disclaimer: Please double check event information with the event organizer as events can be canceled, details can change after they are added to our calendar, and errors do occur.

Cost: FREE*
Categories: Art & Museums, In Person, Other, Rainy Day Fun
Venue: Heron Arts
Address: 7 Heron St, San Francisco, CA