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  • Nov 28, 2023

Fuchsia Forges Portals into “Otherworlds”

Installation view of "Otherworlds" at 10 Chancery Lane Gallery, Central, 2023. Courtesy 10 Chancery Lane Gallery. 

fuchsia: “Otherworlds”
10 Chancery Lane Gallery
Hong Kong
Nov 16–Jan 12, 2024

To be a romantic is to risk scrutiny. Cynics and pessimists could easily argue that remaining hopeful in the face of global tragedy is simply naive, even willfully ignorant. But for Paris-born, London-based artist fuchsia, if her works inspire one viewer to err on the side of hope, to find solace in the Earth and feel awestruck by its beauty, painting utopias is well worth the risk.

For her first solo exhibition in Hong Kong, “Otherworlds,” fuchsia transformed the glass-fronted, street-level space of 10 Chancery Lane Gallery into an ecological and spiritual altar—in one room, tealights even lined the floor. More than 20 watercolor and oil paintings were set against delicate, pastel murals of landscapes hand-painted directly onto the gallery walls, as if one really were entering into another world. The ethereal murals emphasized fuchsia’s painted subjects—angels and cherubs interspersed with Georgia O’Keeffe-inspired flowers and other symbols of divine femininity, such as pearls and coral.

FUCHSIA, Can you feel the power of the earth?, 2023, oil on canvas, 142 × 100 cm. Courtesy 10 Chancery Lane Gallery.

Highlighting the artist’s desire to reclaim doomsday narratives about looming ecological destruction, three oil paintings appealed directly to the viewer’s ideals: Can you feel the power of the earth? (2023), Do you ever resist your urges? (2023), and Where will you be when the truth comes out? (2023). All three paintings feature vibrant natural tones—forest greens, sienna oranges, azure blues—while fuchsia’s signature pearlescent orbs and angelic figures embellish the surreal landscapes like celestial guardians. Compared to the artist’s miniature watercolors of orchids, these canvases were rather imposing (approximately 150 by 100 cm), so that the longer one stood in front of them, the more they appeared like portals.

Filled with references to 19th-century Romantic painting and Symbolism, fuchsia’s paintings do not shy away from age-old iconographic tropes, like the cherub shooting an arrow, or the dramatic colors of sunset. Rather, the artist herself proposes that the dichotomy between good and evil takes prominence in her work, with influences from Christianity and Buddhism. In Otherworld 1 and Otherworld 2 (both 2023), fuschia abstracts their titular subject into swirling, mystical abysses. The first mostly comprises greens and browns, its impressionistic strokes depicting a woman and child atop rolling mountains. The second is the earthly landscape’s fiery counterpart: overwhelmed by oranges, reds, and purples, the scene takes place beneath the mountains, with at least seven discernable angels hidden therein, complicating the scorched underworld’s typical “evil” implication.    

FUCHSIA, Instinct, 2023, watercolour and acrylic on watercolour paper, 40.5 × 30.5 cm. Courtesy 10 Chancery Lane Gallery. 

More religious iconography appears in the paintings Power (2022), Instinct (2023), Angel Property (2023), and I found my spirit in the landscape (2023), particularly, the sacred heart, angels, snakes, and the Madonna. The most obvert reference occurs in Instinct, a comparatively simple watercolor and acrylic painting of a mother and her children amid natural foliage. As the work is painted almost entirely with subdued purples and blues, one’s eye is immediately drawn to the seated, female figure at the center of the composition; her braided hair, robe-like dress, and position cradling an infant recall classic depictions of the Virgin Mary. Yet, such references are, again, entangled within fuchsia’s abundant imagery. Depicting human figures, spiritual keepers, and nature with equal ardor, the artist implies their symbiotic beauty is all the more powerful in concert.     

In “Otherworlds,” fuchsia probed our binary moral conceptions by portraying passionate, fantastical landscapes, full of the symbolism that typically represents ethical-belief systems. While a curatorial note emphasized her works’ allusions to the risks of climate change, fuchsia’s paintings do not necessarily offer an explicit political or philosophical agenda. Rather, in these romantic, alternate worlds, the artist imagines that nature is our foremost value, protected by celestial guardians and reinforced by artistic depictions. In an era defined by cynical grandstanding, such imagery serves as an important reminder: the world is only as beautiful as we dare imagine it could be.

Installation view of "Otherworlds" at 10 Chancery Lane Gallery, Central, 2023. Courtesy 10 Chancery Lane Gallery.

Anna Lentchner is assistant editor at ArtAsiaPacific

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