THE FEMININE BEYOND – the feminine identity and beyond
Diana Lui

Wei-Ling Gallery is pleased to present The Feminine Beyond, a solo exhibition by world renowned
Malaysian-born artist, photographer and filmmaker, Diana Lui.

Featuring works of photography, this exhibition marks the artist’s first solo exhibition with the gallery.

The feminine beyond is a photographic and artistic exploration of today’s feminine identity. Far from being a feminist criticism on society, these photographs seek to re-define our notion of identity, more specifically the “identity” beyond all identities, the inner and original self within us when first born into this world: the primordial self. As an artist with multiple ethnic, cultural backgrounds and nationalities, the belief in the existence of the inner primordial self is essential to my research on our contemporary identity today.

Throughout history, the body has been mythicized, sacrificed, sanctified, idealized, objectified and modified. The woman’s body in my day and age has continued to be idealized, treated as an object of desire and subjected to transformation whether through clothing, make-up, dieting, extreme exercise, plastic surgery, tattooing or piercing. With the onslaught of globalization, the female body has become more and more homogenized, giving room only for a few possibilities to be an accepted ideal body type.

The series of women portraits in closed intimate spaces or outdoors in nature is part of the artist’s research regarding the female body and identity for the last 30 years. Having begun with self-portraits in the late 1980’s, her search for identity as a young woman with a multiple-cultured background grew into a more universal search. In the words of the artist, “the female body has never truly belonged to the woman herself as an individual but as an idealized form to mould herself to.” The artist’s research is centred on returning women back to their original bodies, hence their original selves or the inner primordial self.

In esthetical contrast to these naked portraits, Lui has begun a photographic research since 2009 on the diverse and rich symbolic meanings the veil possesses and how it is worn by different people from different cultural backgrounds today. Inspired by the obsessional photographic work on women’s costumes in Morocco by famous French psychiatrist Gaëtan Gatian de Clérambault (1872-1934) and through a personal documentation of the recurring semantical structures of the veil, the artist seeks to unmask the very essence of its multiple meanings, possibly finding the “essential or universal veil”, hence giving clues to our complex existence.

For the artist, the meticulous and intuitive process of photographing these women with a large format camera is not so much a capturing of the moment as it is an exchange of experiences, intimacy and trust between artist and model where it is revealed that inner self. These portraits show women for who they simply are, and in this simplicity and essentiality, surfaces an untainted, natural aura of the divine. These portraits are modern icons of today, offering infinite ways and possibilities of being and mutating. Unlike the female icons of the past, these modern icons offer the possibility of freedom from past taboos and expectations. These portraits give women the possibility to re-possess their body once again, and in photographing them and exhibiting them, enhance and perpetuate their individuality.

Rich, complex and unique, each woman and her body are transfigured, making her whole, truly feminine and beyond.

Diana Lui (b. 1968) is a French and Belgian artist, photographer and filmmaker of Chinese origin from Malaysia. At the age of 14, due to political and economic instability, she was sent by her parents to further her studies in Los Angeles, California. After 12 years in the United States, Lui immigrated to Europe in 1993, first to Belgium and finally to France in 1998. Based now in Paris for more than 13 years, Lui has exhibited her photographs and art work in solo and group exhibits and won several awards in the USA, China, Malaysia, Singapore, Belgium, Paris (France), Germany, Italy, Estonia, London, Morocco, Mexico, and Venezuela.

The Feminine Beyond will begin showing at Wei-Ling Gallery on the 5th of October and will continue until the 29th of October.

Wei-Ling Gallery is located at No. 8, Jalan Scott, Brickfields, 50470, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Please call 0322601106 or email for more information.