mtn space gallery is pleased to present Trickster Remakes World, a solo exhibition of mixed media tarot work by New York-based artist Jia Sung.
On view will be the complete set of original drawings from Sung’s tarot deck, Trickster’s Journey, a reinterpretation of both the major and minor arcana.
Sung’s major arcana draws from Tang Dynasty aesthetics and the 16th-Century classic Chinese folk novel Journey to the West. In this tale, the Monkey King (Sun Wukong) takes a wandering and epic path to enlightenment, encountering struggles, triumphs, ego death, and revelation along the way. This path is parallel to tarot’s universal narrative of the human journey from innocence to enlightenment, with the Monkey King and Trickster figures directly reflecting one another.
This relationship is evident in the trickster character of the Monkey King — in Journey to the West, he begins a quest for immortality in which he steals weapons from dragons at the bottom of the ocean, breaks into the underworld to erase his name from the Book of the Dead, steals The Peaches of Immortality from the Lady Queen Mother, and is consequently sealed under a mountain by the Buddha himself. He is freed 500 years later and, in the last few pages of the novel, is finally named the Buddha Victorious in Strife.
The minor arcana suits of Cups, Coins, Wands, and Swords are similarly framed around Chinese mythology. According to Sung, “the Four Symbols, guardians of the four cardinal directions who were present as constellations in ancient star maps, allow the suits to become miniature cosmos to house the world building of the major arcana.” The syncretization is as follows:
Coins, ruled by Blue Dragon, guardian of the East, tied to the element of earth and the season of spring, dealing with the realm of material concerns.
Cups, ruled by Black Tortoise, guardian of the North, tied to water and winter, dealing with the realm of emotions and relationships.
Wands, ruled by Red Bird, guardian of the South, tied to fire and summer, associated with creativity and action.
Swords, ruled by White Tiger, guardian of the West, tied to air and autumn, connected to matters of thought and intellect.
In addition to the Trickster’s Journey drawings, we are pleased to debut a series of four paintings based on the minor arcana, which Sung has created specifically for this exhibition.
Jia Sung is a Singaporean Chinese artist and educator whose practice spans painting, artist books, textiles, and printmaking. Her work is held in the collections of The Met, SFMoMA, the Special Collections at Yale University, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Rhode Island School of Design, among many others. Her work has appeared in publications including The Paris Review, Emergence Magazine, Astra Magazine, Poetry Foundation, and Asian American Writers’ Workshop. She has taught workshops with organizations such as the Hudson River Museum, MoMA, and NYU. She was a 2018-9 Smack Mellon Studio Artist and Van Lier Fellow, and is currently an adjunct professor at RISD, where she received her BFA in 2015.
Trickster Remakes World will open on Saturday, February 17th, from 6-8pm and will be on view through March 30th, 2024.