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Ha-Li Bo and the Banana Philosopher’s Tone

by Alfonse Chiu

It is hard to decide whether Christine Tien Wang, painter, teacher, analogue meme archivist, is in fact also a troll. In her recent paintings, most of which faithfully transfer memes from the internet into the real world via pigments on canvases, she has depicted, disgusted, dissuaded, dissed, discussed a rich vein of themes plaguing the current American—and the world’s by digital proxy—psyche: racism, sexism, climate crisis, and good old despair in late capitalism. Wang’s paintings, which magnify the usual thumb- to page-sized meme graphics consumed voraciously on digital screens to meter-long rectangles, are meticulously replicated appropriations presented without contexts and contextualisations. With her jarring shifts in scale and materiality for her subject-matters, Wang gets at a central absurdity within our hyper-mediated and -connected collective consciousness, and spotlights aphoristic moments of lucidity. More, by eschewing the didacticism or the garish early web era aesthetics that usually accompany contemporary works ruminating about the ever presence and ever annoyance of the digital world, Wang’s rigorous paintings thus come across as both sardonically trollish and painfully sincere, much like a natural grimace captured accidentally in a group portrait......

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