In My Mother’s Hanlan’s Point, Petrina Ng compulsively reproduces one of her mother’s paintings across different media and forms. The process of mimetic repetition that began in the 1970s when the artist’s mother Angela Yip embraced the white male-dominated aesthetic of Abstract Expressionism as a first generation immigrant from Hong Kong attending art school in Toronto, is extended by her daughter, who re-contextualizes the high modernist, masculine painting tradition as contemporary art with feminist resonances. That Petrina Ng’s process began while her mother was ill, and continues after her mother’s death, underscores the nature of this body of work as an accidental mourning ritual. In Ng’s installation for Out of Repetition, Difference, the gallery becomes populated by the traces of her grieving process— a soft sculpture or blanket, framed posters, drinking glasses, umbrellas, beach balls, all bearing the image that the artist’s mother originally painted. Just as Angela Yip embodied the male-authored forms of Modern Art, so too does Petrina Ng’s work nod to this history: the soft sculpture bears resemblance to Claes Oldenburg’s oversized soft sculpture or the Vancouver conceptual art collective N.E. Thing’s Bagged Landscape (1966), while the smaller works mimic the objects that commodify Art in postmodern art spaces, like the plethora of souvenirs found in museum and gallery gift shops today. The repetition of the image of Angela Yip’s painting demonstrates a compulsion that becomes imbricated in commodified modes of production: the melancholic repetition of the image takes on the status of a ritual object. The industrial processes of what Walter Benjamin theorized as “art in the age of mechanical reproduction” eases the artist’s capacity to work with deeply personal material in a conceptual way. With this ongoing body of work, Petrina Ng commemorates her mother as a mother and as an artist by displaying this image across contexts and forms, allowing the image to be disseminated widely.
Excerpt from Lauren Fournier's exhibition text: Out of Repetition, Difference, Zalucky Contemporary, 2017. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.