Nine large sheets of glass rested on short aluminum cylinders just above the terrazzo flooring of Galerie UQO. They appeared to hover around the perimeter of the space. The panes were painted in Yu's signature brushed oil, each composed of two bands flanking a central square. Essentially, they are square paintings on rectangular supports, articulated in a restrained range of matte blacks, greys and clear glass, creating varying degrees of transparency. Each "non-painting painting," as Yu calls them, is a distinct combination expressing a relational individuality. Together they conjure the in-between of above and below, demarcated by a membrane of glass.
Yu shifts our physical experience of painting from parallel to perpendicular, resituating our verticality and undermining our hierarchical gaze. In this installation, Yu folded space on the horizontal plane; her paintings held the weight of the air above while framing and revealing the space underneath. They expanded upwards and extend below, marked by their shadows. Yu has made the perceptual illusion of space tangible.
In winter, the blue grey of the Kitchissippi River mirrors the grey blue of the sky. The clouds are brought down to the water's surface, evoking the refrain of Taqralik Partridge's poem "Sea Woman": "I, I, bring the clouds to the ground I I, I am always t raveling down." Yu's marks on glass are similarly reflective. There is balance and precariousness, solidity and emptiness, confidence and doubt. Yu is as articulate in painting as the river is ancient.
She also makes evident the fragility and danger of these suspended flat glass paintings. Traversing this determinedly horizontal installation, we become aware that we need to simultaneously care, be careful, and take care. Yu's ability to parse fine and poignant perceptual distinctions reveals her as highly attuned to power dynamics, and each pane becomes, in turn, a sensitive and resonating membrane through which to perceive.
I sense the impossible work of mourning in these works, mourning as a reflexive process in which the artist's subjectivity repeatedly appears and disappears; like her, we move between subject and reflection. Yu is coming to terms with her position as a painter committed to the language of abstraction in this space in which she may or may not have been invited, may not be unwelcome and may never be able to belong. Her paintings are held in a superstratum, perhaps superfluous, connected yet uprooted, parallel to the solidity of the floor, but breakable, removable. This, she suggests, is her state of continual unbelonging: "jinny yu perpetual guest" are the words that greet us as we exit.