Morton Fine Art presents “Ai Yo!,” a solo exhibition of sculptural paintings by artist Jenny Wu. Continuing an innovative latex paint and time-based practice the artist has been implementing for nearly a decade, “Ai Yo!” features Wu further exploring composition, color, expertise, control, chance and surprise—favoring discovery over mastery. Long interested in tactility, in-betweenness, embodiedness, and construction (Wu has a background in architectural studies), the Jenny Wu art exhibition questions our basic assumptions about what paintings and sculptures can be. Wu’s first solo exhibition with the gallery, “Ai Yo!,” will be on view from February 8 – March 8, 2023 at Morton’s Washington, D.C. space (52 O St NW #302).
Underpinned by transformation and embodying time, material characteristics and chance, Wu’s sculptural paintings operate as both built objects and records (of labor, gesture, accident). Generating degrees of liminality, Wu’s body of work is an engine to multiplicity. To create each work, Wu pours thick coats of latex paint onto silicone surfaces, allowing each layer to dry completely before adding another layer of latex in turn to dry. The results are rich and vividly varied strata of dried paint, which Wu then cuts to reveal layers of colorful cross-sections, often touched by chance elements like cracking.
Using these cross-sections as her base units, Wu assembles her paintings, building up relief and composition—piece by piece—on wood panels. Both the cross-sections and their eventual sculptural forms veer towards an order out of serendipity and planning. Following prearranged patterns, Wu erects pulsing grid-forms and mesmerizing reliefs of playful, shimmering paint, completed with a top coat of glossy resin to amplify her vibrant palette. Transforming latex paint from its original, liquid form—before fashioning it within new contexts and forms—the artworks acknowledge an abiding passion for the sensational and perceptual properties of materiality.
Titles play an important role in Wu’s practice, in some cases mirroring her process of cutting and rearranging layered materials: Too Heavy to Carry to the British Museum (2022); 70 Year Old Intern Waiting for His First Real Job (2022); Hello to That One Person Who Nods Along Encouragingly During Presentations (2022). Sourcing her titles from Twitter (including a number of Donald Trump’s tweets, an approach that ended in 2020), Wu’s titling compounds the humorous and constructive elements explored in “AiYo!,” the meaning of which too is both layered and specific.
A regional expression in Nanjing, China, Wu’s hometown, “Ai Yo”’s meaning depends on how you say it, ranging from “impressed” to “suspicious.” Existing only as an expression, there is no character for “Ai Yo;” it can only be said and spoken. Unfixed and open, “AiYo” accrues yet an additional context in Wu’s selection of it as her exhibition’s title. Balancing clarity and surprise, “Ai Yo!” is the result of countless juxtapositions and an expanding set of contexts.
About the Artist
Jenny Wu is an artist and educator. She is currently a visiting assistant professor of fine art at Trinity College in Hartford, CT. Wu’s work acknowledges the sensational and perceptual properties of materiality and then transforms the materials from their original forms and purpose to present them within new contexts.
About Morton Fine Art
Founded in 2010 in Washington D.C. by curator Amy Morton, Morton Fine Art (MFA) is a fine art gallery and curatorial group that collaborates with art collectors and visual artists to inspire fresh ways of acquiring contemporary art. Firmly committed to the belief that art collecting can be cultivated through an educational stance, MFA’s mission is to provide accessibility to museum-quality contemporary art through a combination of substantive exhibitions and a welcoming platform for dialogue and exchange of original voice.
Morton Fine Art specializes in a stellar roster of nationally and internationally renowned artists as well as has an additional focus on artwork of the African and Global Diaspora.Asian artFemale artist