I had the pleasure of speaking with Mengfan Bai about her most recent exhibition at The Java Project, Get Rid of Blue. We also discussed her larger body of work and the themes her work explores. Below is a brief synopsis of our interview and images of her work–which speaks for itself. I hope you’ll enjoy this foray into Get Rid of Blue, and that you’ll check out her other works and upcoming shows.
The subject of Get Rid of Blue is tennis, specifically the courts’ geometric forms, lines and texture. Mengfan told me that people assume she plays tennis, or that she was compelled by the sport itself. In truth, she was inspired solely by the structure and surface of the court. The clay proved to be a rich and varied subject, in a state of perpetual change and contingent on external conditions – time of day, weather, and use. Slick and glossy with rain or rough with imprints, the court contained a story and countless perspectives that Mengfan was eager to render.
The main thing Mengfan’s work seeks to explore is ambiguity – how one object or surface can appear as something else. In the case of the tennis court, the clay could appear as a night sky, a lake, or an ocean depending on the surrounding environment.
Get Rid of Blue is, in many ways, a study of uncertainty. Just as she saw the court as a lake, ocean or sky, she evokes the same sense of question in the viewer. Ambiguity is what gives the show its energy. You’re left with a lingering sense of desire – to locate each piece in time and space, to pinpoint exactly what it is you’re seeing, to confirm your own beliefs. And thus, Get Rid of Blue transcends the realm of tennis into life – fleeting, unfixed, and ever-changing.