The J. Rinehart Gallery, located in Seattle’s historic Pioneer Square Arts District, is currently displaying a solo show by artist Maggie Jiang titled I-CHING THROUGH THICK AND THIN. 

This is Seattle-based Jiang’s debut solo exhibition with the J. Rinehart Gallery. Previously, her work has been featured in numerous group and solo shows throughout Washington. Her abstract paintings are multi-layered, both literally with their many coats of paint and thematically.

Maggie Jiang in her studio. Photo by Tanya Lzadora Hayes.

After spending her childhood in China, Jiang has lived and worked on multiple continents. Her background in navigating multiple cultures and languages has directly informed her work. Her work embodies visual language and transcends verbal or written language by communicating universally. Geometry plays a prominent role in how her work reflects these principles.

Jiang’s work evokes dual states, such as stillness and movement, and fluidity and rigidity, simultaneously and in harmonious balance. Her artwork’s balanced yet dual quality is also philosophically relevant to the I-Ching, which emphasizes continual change as central to life.

The 64 hexagrams found throughout the I-Ching are exquisitely woven into the compositions of her paintings. The longer one observes her brightly colored geometric patterns, the more alive they become. This is deliberate, as she seeks to create dynamic, animated paintings. In her own words: “Catching that exact moment between motion and stillness is what I am after.” She achieves this beautifully.

Upon taking a close look at the canvas, one notices residual traces of colors from previous layers beneath the surface layers. With each viewing, more hidden details like these are revealed and deepen the experience of the art.

As with other elements of her work, the delicate act of balance is present throughout Jiang’s creative process. Her paintings are executed with lovely and meticulous precision. She describes her work as being created intuitively through improvisation and chance, which helps explain the wonderful surprises her work offers.

Bold, spirited colors are characteristic of her paintings, and the use of color is very significant in her art. Her color selections speak loudly and produce an immersive visual experience. She selects colors with loving care and her paintings often undergo several iterations of color while evolving into their final forms. In her words: “In this exhibition, there are many examples of a color appearing the same perceptually in different panels of a painting although, in reality, they are not. The reverse is also true, there are cases when colors appear very differently in different panels, but in fact they are the exact same mixture. I built these subtleties into the paintings to encourage viewers to discover new aspects of each painting over time.”

Jiang also cites the Gestalt Theory of Perception as an influence on her work. Essential to her work is the phrase: “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” derived from Gestalt Theory. She states: “My intention is to achieve Gestalt not only within each individual painting, but when this body of work is exhibited as a whole. My gallery did a fantastic job installing the show, which allows that Gestalt effect to happen, and I am very proud of it.”

As viewers will agree, there is much for Jiang to be proud of about this solo show.

I-CHING THROUGH THICK AND THIN runs through July 20th at the J. Rinehart Gallery, 319 Third Ave. S., Seattle.

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