Jocund Company

Lifejacket figures huddle on the ice floe of an arctic sea, but they may as well be hitching a ride aboard a cloud the way the placid waters echo the gray sky above. Freighters and a tug, docked as they are in the far distance, add to a sense of quiet in the crisp air where sound travels more slowly.
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In Yee Jan Bao’s paintings, showing at Mark Wolfe Contemporary Art, figures cavort against the featureless landscape, even as the ocean-goers mutely pass by. The works are marked by the trails of paint which Bao has let drip down their surfaces, helping along the conceit of a sky bleeding right into the waters below until they become nearly indistinguishable from each other.
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The pose of a swimmer, carefully balancing his step with arms extended is nicely realized. The position of the arms also align with the diagonal lens flare, breaking the line of the background. The tiny element of life, underscored by the flare, stands out sharply against such an inert scene.
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The figures are composed of little blocky blotches of color, bringing to mind the simple figures of old PC games of the EGA era. Even standing stock still, snapping photographs, they are amazingly vibrant against the nearly featureless landscape. It’s no surprise to find them gamely leaping into the void.
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