Heidi Lau’s Haunting Ceramics Ruin at NADA

Whitewall | March 2018


The Seventh and Eighth Level of Hell, 2018
Glazed ceramics
37.50h x 16w x 18d in

NADA New York opened today, on view through March 11 at Skylight Clarkson Square. During the fair, Geary is presenting a solo booth of sculptural pieces by artist Heidi Lau. The Macau-born, Brooklyn-based artist draws inspiration from the hauntology of architecture and ruins in her practice. At NADA ceramic totems and chains with gold luster details stand against a hand-painted backdrop inspired by the Shan Shui painting tradition.

This morning during the preview, Whitewall met with Lau to learn more about her the tactility of her works and the beliefs that inform her process.

WHITEWALL: How do Taoist beliefs and mythology fit into your practice?

HEIDI LAU: I grew up in a Taoist family, my grandfather and his dad ran a Taoist temple before Taoism was suppressed during the Revolution. Whilst I was never brought up in that religion, there are rituals engrained in my work.

WW: There is tactility to your work that is so beautiful; can you discuss more your process of creating pieces and what you like about their tactility?

HL: I hand build everything. My pieces are a play on sculpture and painting as I hand glaze and paint the forms. I try to emulate texture and surface of materials. Growing up I loved the architecture of my birthplace, so I often look to building ruins as a source of inspiration and try to emulate the different textures of architectural ruins.

WW: This exhibition builds upon geometric forms in your previous work “Skeleton of the Universe;” do you see each piece as an extension of your last?

 HL: “Skeleton of the Universe” was really my first time building an architectural foundation. My work plays with the idea of ghosts and history, particularly remnants. That work was built to not be completed, but to build upon it so this exhibition is an extension of that. I also drew inspiration from this ship graveyard and used the Skelton of that as the architectural foundation of this work.

WW: How do you explore identity in your practice?

HL: When I was a teenager I had all these emotions and no language to express them. I had all these emotions towards colonialism and my past experiences that when I moved and became an artist I found my own way to voice my experiences.