In Du Chau's Color of My Memory at Kirk Hopper, the Apple's Anything but Forbidden

Du Chau, the ceramist and teacher at several local colleges (Brookhaven, SMU), tries his hand at printmaking in an undeniably lovely exhibition at Kirk Hopper Fine Arts. The artist uses a mix of techniques to emphasize life and energy in clear defiance of war and violence and, for balance -- so the solo show isn't a total downer -- the apple, and the satisfactions of its ebullient, all-American form.

See also: There Are Floating, Fabulous Sculptures at Cris Worley Fine Arts, in William Cannings' Soft Cell

Chau's apple forms are dutifully repeated to the point of abstraction, but as in the monoprint "Green" (2012), his imagery retains a sentimentality connected to robust health -- or, if you prefer, pie (which is happiness), as opposed to sexy and sinful Garden-of-Eden apples.

But the apples in "Green" fade upward, as if defying gravity. It's a good-looking abstract piece on its own, but that visual suggestion of gravity-defiance also alludes to the defiance realized in Chau's Vietnam-inspired prints

Born in Vietnam to Chinese parents, Chau populates his compositions with the ghosts of those two nations. The exquisite silkscreen prints "Wartime" (2012) and "Ricefield" (2012-2012) skim along the dark surfaces of the artist's heritage while digging into the existential depths of his birth country. Graphic color provides animating sparks to the layered imagery, leaving the effect of a film-editing cross fade between an establishing shot and an initial action shot. It's moving stuff.

Bonus trivia: Du Chau has created hundreds of molds from all varieties of aging apples. He likes Washinton best. A piece in this show consists of 30 glazed porcelain apples made from 30 different molds. It is called "Apples."

He also once created a performance on a New York City sidewalk, right outside of a fancy salon that had windows for walls. For hours, he pretended to carve a porcelain apple. The occupants of the salon decided he was a machine. (New Yorkers: Not too bright?)

Du Chau: The Color of My Memory runs through February 9th at Kirk Hopper Fine Art in Deep Ellum.

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