Yuri Yuan

Yuri Yuan (b. 1996 in Harbin, China) is a painter based in New York, NY. She has received a BFA from Art Institute of Chicago and a MFA from Columbia University. Yuan was a recipient of the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation scholarship in 2020, and the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant in 2019. Yuan has exhibited work at Center for the Arts, Umbria, Italy; Make Room Los Angeles; and Asia Art Center,Taipei. Yuan recently had a solo show at Alexander Berggruen, New York.
January 12, 2022
Tell us about your practice.
I am a storyteller who uses the language of painting to create surrealist narratives that explore existentialist themes of longing, alienation, and loss.
The title of your upcoming show, The Great Swimmer, at Make Room has a fascinating backstory. Can you share with us where it comes from and why you chose it?
It is from a fragment by Kafka that was never published. I think it was based on his dreams. It is about an Olympic-winning swimmer who revealed at the award ceremony that he/she does not know how to swim, nor is he from the country he represented. I resonated with the sense of absurdity and alienation that lies within the author’s subconscious.
There seem to be two different palettes that you used to create this body of work. Can you elaborate on the duality of the exhibition?
This duality of the exhibition is a result of formal (two sets of color palettes representing different times of the day), conceptual (fragmentation of the ego), narrative (two sides of a story, two personas of a person), and curatorial (Make Room Gallery’s two rooms) decisions. These choices inform and enhance each other.
What has been inspiring you lately?
Visual language in films and narratives in short stories and essays.
What’s next for you?
I will be taking a break for a few weeks after this show. I want to continue exploring and experimenting with different modes of story-telling in painting. The next big project will be my solo show at Alexander Berggruen Gallery in New York in the fall of 2022.

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