Whitestone Gallery Hong Kong is proud to present a joint exhibition, “BODY and SENSES”, with the theme of the human body and sensory perceptions. Showcasing works of Icelandic conceptual artist Æsa Björk and Sicilian painter Fabio Modica, the exhibition highlights a variety of media used by the artists to express the emotional states and stimulate the senses. The human body has long been a source of inspiration for artists. Traditionally the body was often used to explore metaphor, beauty and sexuality. Gradually, there was a growing interest in the perceptions inherent to the body and the way it was used to create art. Similarily, Björk and Modica are interested in the psychological landscape and emotional responses that are derived from their works.

Æsa Björk is a visual artist who works cross-disciplinary with glass and new media. Born in Reykjavik, Iceland, Björk studied at the Glass Department of Edinburgh College of Art and founded the Bergen-based gallery for experimental and sculptural glass art, S12. Björk examines the complex dichotomy between the inner and outer layers of the human being and human perceptions, through a series of experimental works including photography, video and glass objects. Glass plays an important role in Björk’s artistic works, transliterating an analogous dualism of strength and vulnerability in human existence. “Impression II” is an installation of two large photographs displaying the artist’s own body weighed down by hundreds of glass spheres, with her eyes closed, as though she is looking inward. The viewer is separated from the body, as the distorted body can only be observed through the glass spheres. In her experimental video work ‘SYN’, meaning ‘vision’ in Icelandic, can be interpreted as the ‘inner vision’. It records the forced physical movements caused by breathing under the heavy load of spheres. The human pulse here is revealed in both its fragility and strength, like the glass material is both transparent and opaque, light and heavy. Alongside Björk’s installations, a series of digital prints on glass are shown. “Vision I – III” are three pixelated images of a semi-covered eye, alluding to the subtle differences in the way we observe the world around us, balancing between curiosity and the need for protection from what we might find. Björk’s installations take active use of the exhibition space and enhance viewers emotional connectedness.

Concurrently, Fabio Modica’s works explore the human topography and experiences through a series of paintings depicting the female faces and bodies. Graduated from University of Bologna with a Master’s Degree in History and Preservations of Works of Art. During his academic years, he was inspired by the Classical Renaissance and mythologies, the human figure wrapped up in a Caravaggesque light was his major subject matter. The year 2002 marked a departure from his representational style towards a semi-abstracted texture. Modica's enduring realism was gradually dismantled by a compelling drive for sheer lines and thick smudges of color. Modica’s passion for nude art and cultivation in abstraction are perfectly reflected in his paintings, ‘Dreaming Motherhood’ and “La ricerca della luce”. Yet his most celebrated works are female portraits, whose gaze is hypnotic and pierces through the viewers, projecting them into a collapsed time - merging the past, present and future at the same time. Modica’s faces share fragments of memories and by applying luscious paint in kaleidoscopic colors, he portrays the human visage as a topography of the soul. The outcome is a series of paintings entitled “Gnosis”, which is showcased in this exhibition. “Gnosis”, meaning ‘Knowledge’ in Latin, captures individuals experiencing a state of epiphany and self-revelation. The painter is also devoted to engage art to self-awareness expansion and cerebral stimulation, and invite viewers to experience this transcendent dimension from his paintings.

From traditional paintings, video installations to glass spheres, “BODY and SENSES” offers a cinematic and chromatic experience stimulating the viewers awareness by exploring feelings of fragility, intimacy and the complexity of the mind and emotions through the works of the artists.

In conjunction with “BODY and SENSES”, Whitestone Gallery and the Karuizawa New Art Museum present a group exhibition entitled “DIVERSITY FOR PEACE!” in Venice, in which Björk’s installations and Modica’s paintings are shown. The exhibition runs through November 24, 2019.