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Olivia Jia: Nine Motifs

Nov 16, 2023 — Jan 06, 2024

Featuring work by: Olivia Jia

Concurrent with Kate Abercrombie: Some Lives

Opening reception: Thursday, November 16, 6–8pm


Olivia Jia (b. 1994, Chicago, IL, lives and works Philadelphia) creates trompe-l’oeil oil paintings that conjure a re-discovered lost archive of images. From a garden window in Suzhou to an Audubon illustration from The Birds of America, the images presented in these works reference objects and art histories that relate to the artist’s cultural background as the child of Chinese immigrants to the United States. Each painting presents a single image, situated upon a book page that has been torn from its binding, as if the artist is preserving a found paper record in paint. The first thing the viewer will notice in these highly detailed yet forlorn images is that the “paper” depicted in each painting has been folded into quarters, as if the keeper of the page wished to hide the image within the folds. The paintings therefore capture the moment that an image is revealed.


Jia’s twilight palette makes for moody, somber paintings. Jia’s family lived through the turmoil of the 20th century in Shanghai, which included the erasure of culture and tradition. As a result, her parents, who immigrated to the United States in the early 1980’s, never adopted an instinct for the custodial preservation of culture in the form of heirlooms and artifacts. Ultimately a form of self portraiture, Jia’s project is that of building such a context anew, through the collection and representation of cultural touchstones that together may form the boundaries of her sense of self. These are forgotten images in the midst of being remembered, shrouded in a nocturnal fog of recollection.


Olivia Jia received a BFA from the University of the Arts, Philadelphia in 2017. She has had solo exhibitions at Margot Samel, New York, NY and Workplace, London, UK. She has been included in group exhibitions at venues including Workplace, London, UK; Commonweal, Philadelphia, PA; La Nao, Mexico City, MX; Margot Samel, New York, NY; Nathalie Karg Gallery, New York, NY; Yee Society, Hong Kong; Marginal Utility, Philadelphia, PA; Mana Contemporary, Chicago, IL; The Woodmere Museum 78th Annual Juried Exhibition, Philadelphia, PA; and Dongsomun, Seoul, Korea, among others. Her work is in the collections of the Palm Springs Art Museum, CA; Huamao Museum, Suzhou, China; and Zuzeum Art Center, Riga, Latvia.

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