Y E N  Y E N - J U I
            L A I

賴 妍 叡
Yen Yen-Jui Lai

This is a portrait beofre I cut my hair.

1990  born in Taiwan
2016  M.F.A. Painting and Drawing, Pratt Institute, NY

I draw something  I do not understand.

By living on an isolated island in East Asia. My world is composed of stories and literature. These become the only way I connect to the outside world and feel free inside my mind. My imagination floats on water and the air surrounds me. I listen to the sounds of the ocean, and find the same rhythm in my heart.

For a person who lives on an island, the ocean is the end of the world. Space and time are blocked there, like a completely closed form. An outsider cannot pass through it, and an insider cannot escape. However, for the ocean itself, it is the beginning and the endless moment. I cannot understand the possibility of infinity. The ocean contains all kinds of consciousness, and it scared me a lot. In 2014, I made a big decision to leave the island where I used to live, but I suddenly realized I had just traveled from one island to another. By trying to escape, I feel I am drowning no wonder how far I am from the ocean. However, at the same time I know I need it. The ocean is the only connection we have to live in the same space-time, like a miracle in our gloomy lives. So I keep drawing the ocean, trying to overcome it and trying to understand it.

Drawing is a way that forces me to look into objects and directly face my fears. The process feels like a battle; after I finish the works, the fear still exists, but I can live with it. Life is full of sadness and frustration, yet it is fascinating. I want to capture these feelings and remind myself that there are still beautiful things around us. I feel there is an isolated part in my mind, like an island. In some way, I can see the isolated part materialize in my real life. I create a lot of empty space in my work, trying to capture the feeling of floating and leave a place for being isolated. I realize I am always floating, losing my direction in the infinite blue.

Feeling is an abstract form. You cannot really tell how a feeling works like a math equation. If I need to describe the feeling of my works, I will say they feel like silence. There is a lot of white in my works. Clean and white, like a quiet morning after the blizzard. Snow takes away all sound and time. The moment is still and perfect. Although I had never seen snow before I left the tropics; it was somehow the most familiar moment I felt in the north. I think in some ways, the familiar feeling has something to do with my childhood memories. Both of my parents worked in the hospital. The hospital was my home, and I spent most of my early time in it. Clean walls and white colors always helped to quiet my mind from the children’s crying, and I could stay in silence.

Maybe it was the first color I saw.


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