A solo exhibition by Ikea Rizalon
Threading Big Thoughts and Small Talk
From painting to embroidery on x-ray film, Ikea Rizalon has expanded creative expression with embroidery on canvas pieces in “Meeting People At Subconscious Parties,” using vintage photos and images to serve as ground as she manipulates flat space with thread, adding different dimensions and texture. As a child unknowingly introduced to the soft arts, she witnessed her grandmother and other female relatives sewing, and she herself started putting needle and thread into leaves with a sense of play at a young age. While she set out to go into medical school, growing up has led to her taking an artist’s path, apprenticing for some of the most prolific names of her generation and participating in notable group exhibitions in local galleries.
Rizalon never forgot her childhood dream of being a surgical doctor, but she has discovered equal happiness in stitching up x-ray films instead of patients’ skin. Now, as she transfers this passion into canvas, she materializes visions from her imagination with her handling of the nostalgic images she gathers, blurring the lines between art and memory. Traditional illustrations are intervened into by her hand stitches, which in turn reinvent the pieces to show new concepts in unexpected ways. Fascinated by old photographs and magazine illustrations scoured from thrift shops or collections from acquaintances, Rizalon repeats imageries by putting brush on canvas while rendering them with her personal touch and additional layers. She uses thread as she does paint, going through a more painstaking process as she pokes premeditated holes on canvas, making it hard for her to backtrack in case of any mistake. With her threadwork as part of her artistic practice, she looks forward to how members of her audience interact with each piece, perhaps leading to wonder how the message transforms according to what is covered and exposed. She hasn’t met any of the muses, mostly women subjects, illustrated in her works, so she stages subconscious parties in her head, drawing on each encounter as inspiration to what her threadwork will lead into.
I’ve Seen This Before is a woman in period costume posing for a portrait, with Rizalon’s threadwork creating a net poised to capture her. The woman sports a nonchalant stare, unknowing of the danger aimed at her direction. Unpleasant Roots dwell on plant life, the thread serving as additional organic forms that contain, and at the same time, contribute to their texture. Hiding Place looks like a traditional home, but with the introduction of Rizalon’s embroidery, it seems to be slowly being engulfed in a flexible force field preparing to confine all its secrets. Posed women gather around a sofa as they are photographed in a party, with dated dress cuts and hairstyles in the artist’s favorite piece. They now find themselves under the scrutiny of different parties who cannot seem to decipher whether they are in a celebration or in a glum occasion due to the lack of facial features and the emotions they can convey. The work is diverse as each individual subject may be characterized differently through their pose and outfit, their demeanor devoid of any sentiment as the artist covers them up, resulting in the work expressing something that isn’t actually there.
For Rizalon, history perpetually repeats itself, but an artist can always utilize her power to intervene. As the artist explores the creation of stitched stories, manipulating canvas with acrylic paint, oil paint and thread, she adds not only visible lines but three-dimensional texture to each individuated piece. She casts organically shaped nets with her well-meditated piercings, choosing to hide some details while emphasizing others. In doing so, she lends a personal touch to her works by using thread much like she uses paint, adding form, color, and meaning, and creating variations on a theme – her threadwork creates nets that cover, shields that erase, cushy forms that cocoon, or safety fields that protect. Each encounter with Rizalon’s work may be considered small talk as it sparks conversation and discourse, each piece contributing its own story as it plays on perception and preconceived notions.
Words by Kaye O’Yek