Of Other Kin
Curated by Concetta Luise
October 19 - November 11, 2023

Opening Reception: Thursday, October 19, 6-8pm
368 Broadway, Suite 409, New York, NY
Please RSVP: info@elzakayal.com

Timothy Bair - Pearl Cowan
Hayley Youngs - Xiangni Song

Historically, the relationship between the natural and the anthropic world has always favored Men by making them the active subject of any narrative, and allowing them to absorb from Nature whatever is needed for their egocentric growth. Animals and vegetal forms, then objectified, have gradually lost their own personalities and unique identities, becoming pieces, appendixes, and instances of a “failed” evolutionary process.

Some young artists, having grasped the unique identity of natural forms, are exploring alternative scenarios hidden behind rational logic to unveil the existence of a mystical place in which Nature reclaims its position as protagonist, visually borrowing from Men what makes them “superior”: feelings, intelligence, and behavioral expressions. Showcasing animals, vegetal forms, and humans on a same plane and as co-stars, the group exhibition “Of Other Kin” seeks to invite viewers to get closer to the imaginary and surreal world created by the artists Timothy Bair, Pearl Cowan, Hayley Youngs, and Xiangni Song, and reconsider the relationship of power between Man and other living creatures through the lens of the fantasy and humor.

Drawing inspiration from autobiographical experiences and imagination, the artists sought to arrange destabilizing scenarios to renegotiate a safe space for collective meditation, introspection, and re-orientation within everyday life. For Bair, the hybridization of his persona with animals becomes a way to highlight the similarities, rather than the differences, between Men and other living creatures. By relying on animal symbolism, directly influenced by traditional Oriental illustrations, as a subtle tool to unfold the narrative of his drawings, the artist uses bees to reflect on collective history and his position as a disabled man in society. The narrative of liberation unfolded between the works Study for Self Portrait I (2023) and Firewheel (2023) offers a way to believe in a world where boundaries between species are flexible and interchangeable.

For Song, the distortion of the natural physiological forms constitutes a primary strategy to breach the real and present daily scenes in which animals become protagonists, stealing the show from their human owners. While uncanny humor assumes a central role in her work, being capable of overturning the unbalanced relationship Animals/Humans and allowing animals to mock Men through a parodic exaggeration of their moves and behaviors, it also helps the artist capture the loneliness of menkind like in the work Floor Reach (2022).

In the same way formal distortion and witty humor constitute powerful tools in the art of Song, psychedelic colors and impossible dimensions are crucial in transforming Young’s flowers into actual human beings. Characterized each by a different hyper-saturated color and pattern, Youngs allows orchids to become individuals with independent personalities and characteristics. The organized mysticism ruling the compositions of both Fantastical Orchid (2023) and Big Hug (2023), of a clear Art Nouveau inspiration, which helps suspend the organic forms, and our judgment, into an indefinite realm in between fantasy and reality, is echoed in Cowan’s work, which also assumes a religious allure. Visually merging religious art, Dutch still life, and botanical illustration, Cowan succeeds in elevating plants into new, powerful, and obscure, divinities. If where there used to be a human Saint there is a plant now, the frequent portrayal of mushrooms and flowers in watercolors like both Mushroom Assumption (2023) and Ascending Yellow Amaryllis (2023) also highlights the artist’s interest in constructing scenarios in which the uncomfortable in-between quality of natural forms and animals is acknowledged and normalized.

Simultaneously credible and impossible, the works gathered in “Of Other Kin” allow mysticism to penetrate the normal pace of everyday life and rational mental processes, subverting their order to create a space where imagination rewrites the dynamics regulating creatures and their interactions.

Timothy Blair
Born in Taiwan, Timothy Bair (b. 1996) received his BFA from the School of Visual Art in 2019, and currently he is an artist-in-residence at Silver Art Projects in New York. Bair has had solo exhibitions at Launch F18, New York, NY(2022); Bedtime Stories, Mark Christopher Gallery, Toronto, Ontario (2020); All the Rage Back Home, School of Visual Arts, New York (2019); Scotch Mist, School of Visual Arts, New York (2018). The artist’s work featured many group exhibitions including The Feast, River Art Gallery, Taichung, Taiwan (2023); Anthem X (Curated by Jared Owens), Malin Gallery, Miami (2022); Culture II, The Atrium, New York (2022); Strada, Mi Casa Studios, New York, (2021); Connected, Lancaster Museum of Art, Lancaster, Pennsylvania (2020); Made in America, School of Visual Arts, New York, NY (2019); Liminality, SVA Galleries, Liminality, New York (2019); VSA Connected, John F. Kennedy Center, Washington DC (2019); 38th Anniversary Show, Ashok Jain Gallery, New York (2018), and 37th Anniversary Show, Ashok Jain Gallery, New York (2017) among others. Bair lives and works in New York, NY.

Pearl Cowan
Born in Temple, Pearl Cowan ( b. 1982) got her BFA at The University of Texas at San Antonio in 2006. Cowan has had solo exhibitions at Good Naked, New York (2021); Elizabeth Moore Fine Art, Hudson, New York (2021); 13 Forest, Arlinghton, MA (2021); BK Projects, Brookline, MA (2019); Gray Contemporary, Houston, TX (2018).The artist’s work featured in many international group exhibitions including The Art Of Mushrooms, Serralves Museum, Portugal (2022); Becoming Trees, Concord Art, Concord Massachusett (2022); High Desert High, Smoke The Moon, Santa Fe, NM (2021); Magic Mushrooms, Drive-by Projects, Watertown, MA (2021); Radiant, Odetta Gallery, New York, NY (2019); Mystic Pizza, LABspace, Hillsdale, NY (2019); Hilo, Exploraciones Contemporáneas en el Arte Textil, Puerto Rico (2019); Sun Worshipers and Solar Machines, FPAC, Boston, MA (2018); Envisioning Natural Forces, Key Projects, Queens, NY (2018); Meddwl, The Parlour Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY (2016); and Modern Arts and Crafts, Eastside International, Los Angeles, CA (2016), among others. Cowan lives and works in Boston, MA.

Hayley Youngs
Born in New York, Hayley Youngs (b. 1986) got her BFA in Painting at Pratt Institute in 2008. Youngs solo exhibitions include Serenity Now, Mark Borghi Gallery, Sag Harbor, NY (2022); The Art Of Healing, Art On The Ave, New York, NY (2020); Shaved Ice, Proto Gomez Gallery, New York, NY (2020), Celestial Opera, Human Cathedrals, Paradice Palace Brooklyn, NY (2020), and Wet Dreams, Satellite Art Club Brooklyn, NY, (2019). Young's work featured in many group exhibitions including Shape Shifting, Hollis Taggart, Southport, CT (2022); Insta Select, Mark Borghi Gallery, Sag Harbor, NY (2022); Remember to Keep Looking, IRL Gallery, NY (2021); Summer Idylle, 5-50 Gallery, NY (2021); If You Lived Here You’d Be Home By Now, Wassaic Project, Wassaic, NY (2021); and Inner Glow, Walter Wickiser Gallery, NY (2019). Her works are also featured in the online exhibition Betwix & Between, Project Gallery V (2022). Works by the artist have appeared in many publications including ArtMaze Magazine, New Visionary, and Ain’t-Bad. Hayley Youngs lives and works in Brooklyn, NY

Xiangni Song
Born in Beijing, Xiangni Song (b. 1998) got her Bachelor of Illustration degree from School of Visual Arts in 2020 and received her Master of Fine Arts degree from Pratt Institute in 2022. Song has solo exhibitions at VillageOneArt, New York (2023) and her works has been featured in many group exhibitions including IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE, VillageOneArt (2023), Double Troubles,VillageOneArt (2022); and Heterotopic Home: A familiar site of daily life, (2022) during Spring Break art fair. In 2019, Song was awarded the AXA Art Prize. The artist’s work has appeared in publications such as Hyperallergic, Artnet, The Observer Magazine and VoyageLA MAgazine. Song lives and works in New York.