There will be no survivors

by HRM on March 14, 2012

Rich Tu's exhibition reviewed by Elysha Chang

no surivors

Standing serene in his ragged, orange hat, visual artist Rich Tu is the epitome of calm at the preview of his latest collection, There Will Be No Survivors on Thursday, February 23rd at Norwood Club in NYC. Among gilded candlesticks, artfully mismatched lounge furniture and a lampshade covered in snagged hair extensions, the black and white pieces of There Will Be No Survivors have a calming effect on the schizophrenic chic of Norwood Club.  Simple, black on white illustrations, Rich Tu’s art hovers high on the walls, each piece mounted ornate, golden frames, to show us the contrast. To show us how straight, how no-nonsense, how loud, how real this art really is.

no surivors

I’m not one to be easily persuaded of how real something is, but something about Rich Tu’s There Will Be No Survivors keeps the skeptic in me at bay. There’s something that tempers the heavy noise of Tu’s bright white canvases and hardhitting black lines, the bodies and disembodied parts, and even the collection title’s violence. It’s a stillness in the pieces—something like boredom or good-natured disillusion. It lends the collection a sort of all-encompassing balance, something that everyone in the room seems to relate to. The art of There Will Be No Survivors lays in Tu’s ability to be two things at once, tempering one extreme with the other: intensity with calm, seriousness with irreverence, movement with stasis.  You can see it in Tu himself as he floats around the room, swigging his beer, chatting up strangers and friends, seemingly oblivious to his framed artwork adorning the walls of the member’s-only arts club.  Calm, cool, ever on the brink of being bored, but never actually reaching boredom. All of this while his art—headless bodies, bodiless heads, hacked (but bloodless) limbs—screams at us from the canvas. You can’t quite pinpoint what it is that keeps the art calm, keeps it down to earth. The color? The lack of color? The balance? The contradiction? You don’t know for sure, but a fellow spectator seems to know. He’s leaning out the window, huffing cigarette smoke like he’s howling at the moon. Bleary-eyed but still there, he says it best: “There’s just something about it. It feels good. It feels real.”

no surivors

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