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Ana Benavides & Katherine Qiyu Su

Brushstrokes curl and unfold across the canvases of Katherine Qiyu Su and Ana Benavides, exploding and fragmenting with surges of vibrant energy. Waves Wash Over brings together new work by these emerging artists whose practices use the language of abstraction to translate complex emotions and memories into compelling visual forms.
Ana Benavides cites the richness of the environments of her childhood in Mexico as key sources of inspiration, as well as drawing on the intense saturation of colours found throughout Mexican landscapes and cultures. Her practice focuses on processing and translating emotion through texture, gesture, and colour. Benavides begins each work by mentally composing a colour palette based on an instinctual response to memories and experiences. She then paints intuitively, using colour as a means of connecting with the subconscious and spirituality. Benavides utilises varied media such as marble powder, sand, oil, and pastel in order to achieve a material richness across her work, painting onto canvas primed with transparent gesso in order to preserve its rawness. Textural surfaces invite sensorial engagement through haptic complexity.
Engaging in a physical dance with the canvas as she works, Benavides uses a somatic process that she sees as an attempt to unlock the body from traditional gendered roles and societal constraints. Her gestural works suggest explosions of energy, evoking notions of liberty and the release gained by revisiting nuanced emotions and memories. Her fluid practice flows from one canvas to the next, as she continually feeds her work through lived experiences, connections, and bodily presence.
Where Benavides begins with a colour palette, Su starts by drawing on a mental archive of photographs taken in everyday moments before sketching a human figure in monochrome charcoals. Only then does she start applying colour, using oil paint, water-based inks, and dry pigments to achieve a variety of finishes. As she paints, the figure becomes blurry, distorted by fragments of other memories. The original image is exploded into a semi-abstracted sensorial dreamscape, as ambiguous narratives emerge through the eddies and swirls of the artist’s brush before dissolving again before the viewer’s eyes.
Su is interested in how we trace memories and relive past moments, turning remembrances into new possibilities, manipulating recollections of events, or imagining how things could have been. Colour combinations and compositional elements are coded with ways to solve the puzzle of specific memory fragments, guided by the emotions released through the painting process. There is a strain of regret, of paths not travelled, but the paintings simultaneously evoke a hopeful blossoming in new directions.
Many of the works are concerned with relationships, reflecting on how we see ourselves in relation to others and on the never-ending conflict between ourselves and the versions of ourselves we play out when we are with others. Su sees each canvas as a stage upon which the painted elements are rehearsing, where memory fragments appear and disappear according to mysterious cues. The paintings play out scenes in which the viewer never has the full story, but in which small elements come together to form an absorbing narrative with its own internal logic.
Despite coming from different backgrounds and traditions, Benavides and Su share a concern with revisiting memories and feelings in order to release them. Throughout the show, viewers are invited to participate in the artists’ personal memories, to find points of resonance and to project their own interpretations in return. Although they approach their palettes in different ways, for both artists colour offers a language of connection, interpreting emotion through vivid brushstrokes. Their fluid and intuitive work conveys instantaneity, creating painterly spaces that eschew specificities of time and place. Benavides and Su convey strength through poetic vulnerability, converging on a harmonious note of hopefulness and self-aware nostalgia.
Text by Anna Souter


19 June - 13 July 2024


Ana Benavides (b. 1996 Monterrey, Mexico) lives and works in London. Ana recently completed an MA in Painting at the Royal College of Art in London (2023). Recent exhibitions include Tear Rubber, Ojiri Gallery, London (2024); The Dimension of Feeling, Vortic Gallery, Curated by Maria Korolevskaya, London,(2024); A Journey Into The Unknown, Haricot Gallery, London, (2024) and Why Are We So Afraid Of Feeling?, Lupo Gallery, curated by Martha Onsola, Milan Italy, (2023).

Katherine Qiyu Su (b. 1999 in Beijing, China) lives and works in London. Katherine recently completed an MA in Painting at the Royal College of Art in London (2023). Her work has been exhibited at Thom Oosterhof Project, London (2023), St. Art Gallery, London (2023), Plain Gallery, Milan 2023), Candid House Projects, London (2023), Studio West Gallery, London (2023), Alessandro Albanese Gallery, Milan (2024), Ojiri Gallery, London (2024), and Half Gallery, New York (2024).

Ana Benavides & Katherine Qiyu Su
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