The trick of the eye

An exhibition review to Alice Tippit solo exhibition ‘Ess Envy’ at Nicelle Beauchene Gallery

An image, when it is employed with an associative meaning, becomes a sign.
A sign, when it is associated with a common meaning, becomes a fixed cognitive reaction in our cerebral interior.
Then, what will happen if the common association between an image and its meaning collapses? What will happen if a sign is cut down with its common associative meaning and is pasted with a new set of images? Would this collapsed pyramid between image and meaning, sign and reaction rebuild another paradigm of association?

The answer is yes, and this newly-formed visual-cognitive-cerebral model strips down the common association between the fixed reaction between what you see and what you think, allowing the underneath associative meaning to run wild, to become unfixed and unsettling, like a pendulum, continuously oscillating between these of expected and those of unexpected, pocking and challenging our cerebral reaction, tricking viewers’ eye.
Alice Tippit’s solo exhibition ‘Ess Envy’ at ‘Nicelle Beauchene Gallery’ is a show that thematized this association of visual perception. The exhibited works were small in their sizes, but huge in their quantity. Each small piece of painting was hang on the gallery wall, juxtaposed with each other, seemed to tell the viewers a serial tale of riddle in a witty, surreal, poetic and humorous way. The first work that encountered my eye was a piece of a woman’s head with long curly black hair with a dull listless facial expression.


When viewing closely, the woman’s hair was actually depicted with an image of a pair of outstretched legs, rendered in black silhouette, imitating the contour of curly waving hair. Juxtaposed with the image of the eye; two dots that (under the pictorial association) signify nose and the two unequal parallel horizontal lines that suggest mouth, the image of legs thus disconnected with its common associative meaning, and was employed with a brand new cognitive meaning, forming a new cerebral association in our mind.
Another similar work that caught my attention is a painting that depicted a curve line, and a blue vase-shaped image.


On one end of the line, it is painted with a thinner red line with a split end; on the other end of the line, it is painted with a circular form with a shade of red. Therefore, this line could simultaneously be perceived as a snake on one end and a female finger with a touch of red nail polish on the other end, complicating and employing new meaning to the proper of the image of line.
Tippit’s other exhibited works all gave me a moment of ‘ohh, now I see.’ Like a child fell into the wonderland, I kept finding new things I have never seen before. Curious and tempting, I found myself lost in Tippit’s visual maze where all the images, meanings and signs are constantly collapsing, reforming and evolving.

For more information about artist Alice Tippit and Nicelle Beachene Gallery, please visit

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