The Showroom

Phillip Lai


26 February - 30 March 1997

Phillip Lai's work at The Showroom involved the construction of objects and images which addressed 'fluid' states; the transformation via a soy-sauce fermentation unit, of solids to liquid and the absurd fusion, through biro drawn directly onto the gallery wall, of automatic drawing and the 'letting', or exhumation, of a consciousness.

The front gallery contained the workings of a liquid food (soy sauce) in fermentation. It is a site of real production vitrined, as it were, by the gallery's glass frontage. In the absence of institutional checks the production proceeded with the logic of one mind, combining a pragmatism and "evil" embodied by a home-brew experiment - or a bootleg distillery. It is nonetheless a process of science - a direction towards "sublimation", from solid to gas, that found itself floundering somewhere between, in fluid mass.

The back gallery was posited as a landscape of unease. The walls of this room harboured liquids form rendered in biro. Appearing as enlarged doodles which referenced existential processes the work also betrayed a self-consciousness and leaked with generic form that proposes it as a"smart" liquid. This mental outpouring was petrified as an overall scene which revealed a perplexity at the loss of, and recuperation of, the involuntary act.

As in previous works the phenomena Lai presents were located in a space that the artist had defined, and continued to explore, between generic notions of, and his experience of, the East and the West. Rather than maintaining simple dichotomies Lai's works reflected the complexity of the reality of being composed of both.