Online exhibition: Indistinct Familiarity by Dai Li

Online exhibition: Indistinct Familiarity by Dai Li

Welcome to the online home of Indistinct Familiarity, an exhibition by Dai Li that was shown at private BCM Crucible Gallery from 11 June - 12 August 2013. The exhibition is curated by Miriam Carter, the current recipient of BCM and artisan’s Emerging Curator Mentorship.


About the BCM Crucible Gallery

artisan formed a partnership with BCM in 2011 which involves the curation of a number of exhibitions in the Crucible Gallery space within the BCM office to showcase the best of Queensland craft and design artists, as well as an Emerging Curator program.

The Emerging Curator program develops the talents of an emerging arts curator under the guidance of the artisan team, and the program was recognised in the 2012 Australia Council’s Young and Emerging Artists category of the AbaF Queensland Awards. The artisan/BCM partnership is helping to develop future arts leaders, support Queensland’s craft and design community, and also provides exhibition opportunities for Queensland’s talented artists.

About Indistinct Familiarity

The work of ceramic artist Dai Li is at once universally familiar, whilst also a manifestation of the artist’s own mind.

As a creator of fanciful figures, Dai Li explores the many varied moments existing within our daily lives. Her exploration of the human experience through the creation of ceramic sculptures and works on paper expertly captures those unguarded moments of contemplation experienced. Yet an ambiguity exists in the works, as if the figures are actors in a major screenplay and we have only been given a split second snapshot of the scene.

Concerned with the relationships that exist between humans, animals and objects, Dai Li creates masterful dialogues that leave the viewer guessing as to what will happen next. The moments captured in the works often reveal a telling story of the true nature of the subjects – whether they are happy or sad, caught up in moments of contemplation on the complexity of life, or simply experiencing a revelation in the change of self that can occur through the simple act of a haircut.

Humour is often utilised in the works. Dai Li portrays a couple unified together as a Swiss Army Knife in Concomitant 2013, conjuring those relationship moments in which a MacGyver-like approach can fix anything. Likewise, The Balloons 2013, presents a comical situation in which two figures are transformed into inflated balloons – the added punch line being that a third balloon is about to be inflated. Her masterful rendering of emotions and facial expressions combine with these illusionary situations to enact a familiarity recognisable to most.

Dai Li often brings forth an absurdity into existence through these staged situations. This is evident in Tin 2013, through the revelation that it is not just fish that live in sardine cans, but people as well. The depiction of the boy slowly coming out of the tin as if he were merely rolling down the bedcovers in the morning, adds an element of humour to the situation.

Ultimately it is Dai Li’s use of visual metaphors that ensures a successful depiction of the everyday. Her skilful renderings of emotions and expressive dialogues capture elements of daily life that remain relational to a broad audience. Yet her unique staging of these scenarios ensures that the artist’s own voice remains clearly at the forefront in what remains an indistinct familiarity.

Artworks in this exhibition are courtesy of the artist and Heiser Gallery.

Essay by Miriam Carter

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Photographs courtesy of BCM Partnership.