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Discoveries Exhibition: An interview with artists Xuesen Liu and Marijke Keyser


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Fiumano Clase’s new Discoveries exhibition showcases the work of three emerging artists found at London’s art school degree shows. Marianne Thoermer, Marijke Keyser and Xuesen Liu take centre stage in their first commercial exhibition after their graduation, creating an immersive experience for visitors. The National Student talked to two of the artists, Liu and Keyser, about their work.

One artist on display in this exciting exhibition is German artist and Royal Academy graduate Marianne Thoermer. These semi-figurative monotype glass prints are created from a variety of materials such as plaster, latex, and wax, all of which are placed onto Perspex glass, then moulded and scraped until complete. The end result of a laborious process is a three-dimensional painting that is supposed to attract and repel the audience at once. These vibrant works arouse feelings of tactility, creating an immersive sensory experience.

After graduating from Chelsea College of Arts with an MA in Fine art, Xuesen Liu has focused on the creation of works that resonate beyond the visual sphere, tapping into themes of inner peace and meditation. Liu’s sculpture and video piece Genesis plays into ideas of anticipation, what the artist himself calls “the suspension of emotions”. The work sees a male figure swinging a ceremonial sword towards a meditative singing bowl, before abruptly stopping before the bowl is struck. The audience is left anticipating the hit, yet never experiences it. The strength of quietude replaces the impending blow, a reflection of Liu’s personal views on peace and contemplation.

I am a yoga teacher certified by the Yoga Institute, Lu explained, emphasising the importance of his experiences with the art of meditation and how this has influenced his work. There is an element of frozen time in Genesis, ephemerality that roots the body in a particular moment. Liu claims that this feeling is echoed in his method of creating art: “my past is my work, my work is my passing”. The artist’s decision to withhold from hitting the bowl heightens the senses, yet leaves the audience in suspense, successfully alerting the audience to the powers of silence and the importance of inner harmony.

Xuesen Liu, Genesis, 2018. Photo courtesy Fiumano Clase.

Multi-disciplined American artist Marijke Keyser has recently graduated from Slade School of Art and is showing one of her innovative sound installations in this exhibition. This particular work on display, Time Piece, consists of a number of bells in close proximity, experimenting with ideas of sound and the human body.

Keyser is particularly inspired by the relationship between landscape, sound and people, and the intricate interactions between the three. Sound carries so much information with it when it arrives, Keyser exclaims, “As the listener, I become localised by what I hear. My body is caught in the crossed paths of sounds from the landscape around me. It’s a very strange sensation - a part of me is five miles away with the engine of a jet, and yet part of me is anchored here, zero miles from myself, listening to it.”

An example of one of Marijke Keyser's sound works, Time Thicket, 2018. Photo courtesy Fiumano Clase.

This relationship with nature is built from personal experiences. “I grew up on the West Coast of the United States, where the trees are much older than the cities, and the mountains constantly bracket the view, Keyser explained, but her thoughts of landscape as ever-evolving came from the constant changes occurring in urban areas. This obsession, the artist says, “arose from my first experiences with the dizzying layers of European cities. Roman tunnels, Victorian houses, bridges bombed and rebuilt.”

The artist's process of creating is loaded with importance, Keyser claims. “Every sound in the world is already the result of a long process. My job is just to try and get across that physicality, that sense of history.” Keyser’s bells unite sound and body, alerting the audience to their positions in their surroundings, playing with ideas of perception and orientation of the body. This unique and personal experience is explained by Keyser: “I just make the work for my own ears, my own discernment. I suppose intimacy happens naturally in my work because I am being intimate with my material.”

Where Liu’s work is rooted in the present, and Thoermer's work lacks the presence of time, Keyser’s pieces thrive off of narration and dialogue. “I see stories everywhere, and I find them fascinating, and I want to share that feeling. So, I make work.”

Fiumano Clase’s Discoveries exhibition is open until 6th April. To find out more, click here.

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