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collaborative exhibition

April 5th - 28th, 2024

Opening Reception: First Friday, April 5th from 5-9pm

Arch Enemy Arts presents 5 POISONS, a collaborative exhibition by Lauren YS and Makoto Chi that includes twenty-eight pieces ranging in size and medium–from small works on paper to large-scale paintings in acrylic–plus a site-specific mural installation that immerses viewers into the artists’ potent explorations of identity. 


The title of this show, “5 POISONS,” refers to an ancient Chinese medicinal concept representing five poisonous animals: the centipede, scorpion, frog, snake, and spider. Mid-year is said to be an inauspicious time, as these poisonous animals emerge from cold slumber; along with them hostile spirits, disease, and often, enemies. During this time, talismans inscribed with these animals, sometimes with the addition of a tiger to ward them off, were worn as protection. Some ingested tinctures infused with small amounts of poison, believing that “fighting poison with poison” could combat the threat of the five beasts or other malevolent spirits. 


It is curious that the antidote to a poison might contain amounts of the poison itself; that medicine, in the right dosage, crosses a threshold into toxicity. Lauren YS and Makoto Chi make, traverse, question, and turn these concepts in their hands in this new combined body of work. Their anthropomorphized, hybrid-mythic figures make tactile and explore a means of thinking about our social realities, bringing up questions and paradoxes of the use of force in our social movement spaces and intimate relationships. They grapple with the desire toward violence or revenge in a quest for a just and better world, highlighting the fraught nature of community as we attempt to work around each other towards transformation. 


Painting from their respective practices—Makoto in tattooing, and Lauren in muralism—the artists meet and intersect to weave stories soaked with elements of identity, community and heritage. Both draw inspiration from mixed-race East Asian heritages, pulling from a veritable well of invented and historical symbology respective to China, Japan, Judaism and a new synthesis of these backgrounds. Makoto's intricate line-based paintings present writhing humanoid creatures in both tension and intimacy with one another; speaking to the animalism that underscores every human entanglement. Lauren's drawings traverse between images of dreams, processing therapy, and portraits of queer community translated through mythology, in an attempt to capture all that is ephemeral yet held in blood and memory. 


Created across the East and West coasts of the US, Makoto and Lauren's works present multi-layered entry-points into illustrated psychosomatic universes, seeking to question as much as to answer: Whose poison do you drink to ward off the unabating hum of pernicious spirits, beings and forces around you? Will you be aware of when your medicine turns noxious? How do we keep loving each other in a hostile culture? Will we be brave enough to hold each other close at the end of the world? Can we reckon with the monsters within ourselves?


5 POISONS will be on view from April 5th - 28th, 2024
Sold works will begin to
ship the week starting May 5th, unless other rush arrangements have been made.

Payment plan options are available on most works.

All items marked with a red dot have been sold. 

Gallery Of Images
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