For her first solo exhibition in Europe, Firenze Lai unveils more than seventy works, between paintings, drawings and entchings portraying figures in urban universes, in the grip of an alienating society.

Squeezed up in a bus, standing in the queue at the subway station, bent over in underground passageways, these figures take up almost all the space in the canvas, sometimes too small to accommodate their bodies or their thoughts in action. By representing them in disproportionate forms, Firenze Lai emphasises their hands, their legs and feet; almost unfinished lower limbs seem better placed to be rooted in a confined space. Smaller faces and gazes indicate a field of vision which is too restricted for a huge uncontrollable world.

These anonymous figures, merging into neutral backgrounds, relate physical and psychological situations experienced on a daily basis. A lunch break, a discussion amongst friends, or waiting curled up in an armchair, are side by side with other collective scenes, like human chains, with titles referring to political movements. The social transformation in Hong Kong in 2014 had a profound impact on the work of Firenze Lai. On top of her ongoing observation of the daily life of an individual, she then focuses more on how public spaces, their urban furniture, systematic air-conditioning, modes of transport and the constant rush, affect bodies, minds and generate non-verbal implicit primal communication.

Her atmospheric paintings depict figures sometimes under influence sometimes disappearing, while corsages and patterns in the background merge. For instance, the "alignment" process,titling many of her works, shows full-length figures measured in the manner of architectures. Forced to withdraw inside, others are curl up on themselves or are at the threshold of abstract spaces.

The title of the exhibition, White Balance, refers to the photographic photographic process of recalibrating colours and their lighting by means of a neutral and unequivocal standard: white. It also points to the moment of changeover, of nuances, a possible personal adjustment in the face of everyday life situations or of universal values.


Aurélie Voltz
General Director of MAMC+

More than 80 works of art