Eros and Thanatos: Artists Nomi Chi and Pandora Young on the balance between dark and light

Monday 29th, December 2014 / 15:22
By Genevieve Michaels
Nomi Chi and Pandora Young’s artwork represent dichotomies that are quite striking when brought together.

Nomi Chi and Pandora Young’s artwork represent dichotomies that are quite striking when brought together.

VANCOUVER — Life wants to live. Coded in our DNA is the irrepressible desire to push forward, to keep growing, to exist; but what about that other impulse, that uniquely dark and human desire for destruction? In Eros and Thanatos, a new show at Hot Art Wet City, local artists Pandora Young and Nomi Chi will explore this dichotomy: the tension between the life drive and death drive.

Many BeatRoute readers will already be familiar with Chi’s work; she is one of our city’s most sought-after tattoo artists. Although her current focuses are tattooing and illustration, her creative interests are wide-ranging. For Eros and Thanatos, her works will include pen and ink drawings, oil paintings, and woodcut dioramas.

“Internal conflict and struggle is a pivotal element in my work,” Chi says. “My work has kind of a macabre, sardonic flavour to it.” Her intricate, surreal images might include a three-eyed fox, a masked woman with trees growing out of her skirt, or a skeletal rabbit, rendered in red and black.

By contrast, Young’s work is softer, more openly emotional. The medium in which she has worked most to date is graphite on canvas, sometimes accented with gold leaf. “It’s a really unconventional combination of mediums, but she excels at it to an extent that is almost frustrating,” says Chi. For Eros and Thanatos, she will be showing some of her recent forays into oil painting as well. While she downplays her own skills, her co-curator is complementary. “She’s had an annoying degree of success,” Chi says jokingly.

The softness of her mediums are well suited to the sensual, waifish, and supremely human women that she depicts. “It’s a little bit ironic,” she says, “but most of my images depicting the body have a lot more to do with what you might call the soul.”

The two artists describe the planning of the show as effortless, without much back-and-forth or coordination beyond initially determining the theme. “This might be a frustrating relationship for other artists, but I trust Pandora, and it’s more exciting this way!” Chi says. “Nomi is a professional,” Young responds. “Curatorially, this show has been, well, painless.” Perhaps, like the forces of dark and light, these two very different artists will, for one show, exist together in symbiosis.

Eros and Thanatos opens January 9 at Hot Art Wet City.

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