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Off-site exhibition

Temple Gallery & Tutu Gallery present

Cement, Tail of a Gecko

Jon Viktor Corpuz, Alex Choi, María Dusamp, Brandon Foushée, Polin Huang, Yanmei Jiang, Bart Was Not Here, David Yonghwan Lee, Yizhi Liu, Sidian Liu, Sha Luo, J, Elijah Chukwuka Mogoli, Adamaris Ordonez, Xiangjie Peng, Amy Wang, Xuanyi Aura Wang, Dan Yang, Cherrie Yu, Shang Zhefeng & Annie Ziyao Chen

Curated by Li Jianrui & April Z

July 19 - July 22, 2023 (Open 12 - 6 PM daily)

Opening Reception: Thursday July 20, 6 - 9 PM

13 Monroe St, New York NY 10002

For visits and inquiries contact April

For inquiries contact Li Jianrui


April is the best_small size.jpg

New York, NY - Temple Gallery and Tutu Gallery announce their collaborative group exhibition, Cement, Tail of a Gecko. Curated by Li Jianrui and April Z, this exhibition features paintings, sculptures, videos, and photographs by 21 emerging ethnic minority, immigrant, female, and/or LGBTQ+ artists, gathering their portrayal of bodies through the journey of seeking refuge, intimate affirmation, forgiveness, and reconnection. 


Cement symbolizes both the materiality of home and city building, as well as the idea of urbanization, alienation, and imprisonment shadowing Chinatown, the site where the exhibition takes place. The tail of a gecko is a physical residue of autotomy, whereby a creature discards a part of its body as defense and disguise in order to elude a predator’s grasp. As brutal as the act seems, one can observe little bloodshed during this process as opposed to organ loss due to acute trauma.


Some of the artists in this exhibition prevail over the agony of displacement and diaspora through their practice. Elijah Chukwuka Mogoli, a Brooklyn-raised, self-taught photographer, uses a Polaroid SX-70 he found on a stoop in Brooklyn Height in 2019 to document the city and developed those images at his home. Similarly, Adamaris Ordonez, a first-generation Ecuadorian-American photographer and her family’s historian, employs mixed media work combining the household archive and her own reimaging to depict the preservation of faith and the Latinx experience in the United States. David Yonghwan Lee, an American painter from Wisconsin who spent most of his childhood and adolescent years in South Korea and the United Kingdom, makes oil pastel drawings about how newcomers/outsiders adapt to unfamiliar environments. 


For others who always bear the external denial of their individuality rooted in their culture as well as foreign lands, artmaking imagines a future that brings solace. Sidian Liu, a Chinese photographer, prints out life-sized images of her parents and plants them into the routine of her lonely adulthood as a compromised reconciliation and reclaim of power through her lens. Colombian-born María Dusamp reuses the same 40 pounds of clay to make sculptures of garments, the female body, and wild animals, moving within and beyond the strife of loss of innocence and safety. Polin Huang and Xuanyi Aura Wang celebrates sensuality in their paintings by combining their experience as immigrant women with American feminist surrealism, pop culture, and punk rock. Their work depicts a new subliminal character: a fictionalized human incarnated with endless vitality.


Outside of the story of overcoming, there is so much more to life and what a person’s voice can carry. Bart Was Not Here grew up in Yangon, Myanmar, where he started to spray paint in the 8th grade, juxtaposing Burmese and imported cultural norms. After a seemingly endless process of relocating, he is glad to settle in the city for good and currently experimenting with sculpture and mixed-media painting. Sha Luo just graduated from her BFA after an arduous attempt. In addition to photographing intimate moments with her family, friends, and lovers, she makes glass, magnet toys, and sewing projects. Cherrie Yu transcribes codified ballet choreography onto corn dogs, and I think what she says explains this exhibition, the title, and its meaning quite well:


“We assign a word meaning through difference. So we know ‘cat’ means ‘cat’ because it’s not ‘car.’ What I was trying to do was to take something preexisting and then make another version constructed through difference. You can call it failure if you ground yourself in the original version. But if you move your perspective to the space between the archive and the reconstruction, it doesn’t look like a failure, just different.”


There are many more whom I hope to mention but did not manage to fit into the confinement of this writing. If you see something you like, please ask for the artist so we can tell you more.


April Z


Temple Gallery, established in 2023, is an innovative art space dedicated to providing a platform for emerging ethnic minority and LGBTQ+ artists. It aims to redefine the traditional gallery experience by presenting art in a unique format. Temple Gallery believes that art should evoke a quasi-religious experience, as many artists serve as modern-day prophets, reflecting the subconscious of humanity, offering social commentary, and envisioning the dreams of their communities. It is curated and founded by Jianrui Li, a graduate of Gettysburg College with a major in philosophy and art, and a former painter.

Tutu Gallery is a DIY space located in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn, founded in July 2019 by Tutu (cat) and her human assistant April. Tutu’s aim is to show art slightly “off the wall”, in the space, and with its humans, prioritizing immigrants and women with exhibitions and programs. As of March 2023, the gallery has presented 27 projects, mostly first solo or two-person shows of emerging artists. The gallery is featured in i-D and Hyperallergic Spring 2023 Art Guide and has been written by Harper’s BAZAAR China, Whitehot Magazine, BOMB Magazine, and more.

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