Neon Parc acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung and Bunurong Boon Wurrung as the Traditional Owners and sovereign custodians of the Country on which we operate. We pay our deepest respects to their Elders past and present. Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.

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Spencer Lai
‘Let us be silent so that we may hear the whisper of God ...’
15 Jul.–12 Aug.

Neon Parc is pleased to present ‘Let us be silent so that we may hear the whisper of God: strained tremors of life rise from dark billows of muteness as a modern wind soars beneath engineered wings’, a major solo exhibition by Spencer Lai in the Brunswick Gallery. For the artist’s second solo exhibition with Neon Parc, Lai presents a suite of intricate drawings, felt paintings, sculptural forms, assemblages and found objects, along with a series of collaborative photographic works with artist Tim Hardy.

Lai’s artistic practice draws inspiration from encounters in urban environments, such as walking, shopping and salvaging. These everyday moments guide their creative approach, allowing them to gather materials from their immediate surroundings and extract imagery, symbols, and language associated with consumer culture.

Simplistic materials, such as synthetic felt, balsa wood and fabric are juxtaposed with ornate antiquities and Asian artefacts, challenging preconceptions of value, taste, and artistic production. This oscillation between ornamentation, pure form and hard-edge abstraction is a continuing presence in their work. The tone and register of Lai’s works shift depending on material compositions: some are passive or open, contemplative, divine, direct and minimal, flowery, austere, banal, beautiful or abject.

Included in the exhibition is ‘We are Shaped by the Hands of Many’ (2023), a photographic series made in collaboration with Tim Hardy, which features photographed subjects from the artists’ personal and professional lives: fellow artists, former teachers and classmates, friends and partners. Drawing influence from source materials including the Judson Dance Theatre, the sexual liberation movement, Freudian psychology, fashion photography and cinema, the images are set in community halls, universities and middle-upper class neighbourhoods. By interweaving personal and historical subject matter, this series provides a complex and non-linear narrative of youth, power dynamics, freedom, creativity, sexuality and spirituality.

Exhibitions (3)
Biography Spencer Lai

Spencer Lai (b. 1991 Sarawak, Malaysia) is a Naarm/Melbourne based artist interested in the impact of consumerism, cultural objects, and ephemera on identity. Their work engages with a range of artistic mediums, including sculptural compositions, installation and expanded paintings to explore connections between design, education, desire, and the self.

Spencer Lai graduated from Honours at the Victorian College of the Arts in 2014. Working across multiple forms and formats, including sculpture, installation, curation, writing, drawing, Lai’s practice produces associative meaning from a range of accumulated materials that are worked into assemblages, expanded paintings and installations. These materials often include text, found objects, design elements or images from consumer cultures, lifted from thrift stores, replicated, or traced or by chance encounters.

Spencer Lai has exhibited extensively in Australia and internationally. Recent solo exhibitions include ‘Academy for the Sensitive Arts’, Theta, New York, 2022; ‘A Patience Game’ with Jürgen Baumann, Holden Garage, Berlin, 2022; ‘Oriental Painting.’, Neon Parc, Melbourne, 2022; ‘Comfort the Afflicted’, Envy, Wellington, 2022; ‘The body speaks before it even talks’, 99%, Melbourne, 2022; ‘Huddling, friends with thermal benefits’, Cool Change Contemporary, Perth, 2022; ‘buddhaminefield’, Ge Hinnom Small Group Love, South London, 2021; ‘Improvements and Reproductions’, West Space, Melbourne, 2020; and ‘Air becomes metallic scented as anger is emitted, a bounding animal halts as blood in crimson unfurls in still waterhole’, Kimberly-Klark, New York, 2018.

Spencer Lai’s works are held in private collections in Australia and the United States.