Montreal, Canada - TAP Art Space proudly presents a two-person exhibition titled Energetic Maps, which includes the compelling works of artists John Chae and Petra Szilagyi.

In the contemporary context where individuals are consumed with crafting their own stories, we often overlook the importance of listening to our bodies. John Chae and Petra Szilagyi use striking visual imagery to highlight our bodies as conduits of energy. Their exploration of the mapping of these bodies, and the impact of history, empathy, and psychology, reveals the intricate connections between our thoughts, experiences, and overall existence. John Chae's paintings investigate how identity functions in relation to ideology. His mixed media pieces incorporate garments and organic forms to create textured, layered works that evoke natural landscapes and energetic movement. Petra Szilagyi's works consist of torsos carved out of timber. Through their sculptures, they research the energetic potential development of the internet as a spiritual entity and how it may be influenced by the technologies of nature and folklore.


The unquestioning acceptance of order and chaos that is fundamental to the formation of our histories is placed firmly in their materials, both in the softness of Chae’s diaphanous garments and in Szilagyi’s carved, rigid timber. It is this conviction that these artists wrestle to make sense of the space in which our bodies occupy, and how its mutations empower the ways one navigates through personal experiences. 

Chae engages with quintessential American mythologies and its ideological forces in his work while revealing the intricacies of his personal narratives in response to the idea of autochthonophilia - in reference to “a settler colonial desire for and identification with Indigeneity.”  The romanticization of seemingly unconnected motifs is reconstructed and mutated to indicate conflict points amongst them, seen in the pastoral allure of traditional Korean commoner’s textiles in conversation with the cuts of military bomber jackets. This ignites a continuous involution of dialogues in the work and it in turn reflects the repositioning and recycling of histories and influences. Chae uncovers the politics of whiteness invested in the depiction of empowerment and in turn, appropriates its language to create his own rhetoric. The mixture of patches, natural dyes, and fabrics captivates a sense of curiosity that reflects a language of non-orientable and fractured representations. The absence of the physical body, along with the works’ invitation to be touched, has made a habit of looking outside itself to derive its sense of time and space.


More often though the artists’ pacing, framing, and textures, along with their tenuous mixture of tenderness and commentaries, draw us into their ways of looking at a world of unending complexities. The connections “Energetic Maps” see between external and internal worlds can often be frustratingly opaque, but it is with this covert optimism that lingers beyond the beauty and humour of the work. The sense of magnitude of inner being, and the unadulterated faith in the ability of art to transform and improve our sensitivities to our bodies, set these two artists apart from those who make work with their identities being endpoints. If there is meaning for us to rediscover in these artists’ work, it lies somewhere between the richness of our minds and the flawed bodies in which they exist within.

Text by Alex Kwok

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