The Drawers - Jenny Wing Yee Tong   Commentary written by Julie Oakes

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The placement of a donkey's head on a human body is imbedded in the western lore of fairytales, enchantment and children's stories. For example, Shakespeare had Oberon, king of the forest, bring the fairy Queen Titania back under his amorous sway by placing the braying beast's head upon a player's shoulders and tricking her into an embarrassing liaison with the donkey. Pinocchio was pulled from a path of wrong living by the example of truant boys transformed into donkeys. A brash voice, far from mellifluous, stupidity, slowness and stubbornness are the poor beast's attributes. Its position within the beastly hierarchy has been that of a peon - one of toil and basic portage. But there is also a magical aspect to a donkey that might be based on it's potential for transformation. Being so lowly, like frog to prince, the donkey, from its rung down the ladder of evolution when it comes to human enchantments, might be raised and transformed.

The subjects are fabulous, fable-lesque, from fables that Wing Yee has spun from a combination of eastern and western legends. When the butterfly's wing, dusted by fairies, reflects the light of the moon or sun shine bounces on the back of a beetle, Jenny Wing Yee Tong's colors were created. With the pastel overtones of Degas' palette, filaments of luminosity describe fantasies. There are many layers of translucent paint on thin membranes of paper. The Wing Yee palette is primarily pastel. The dense dark fur and solid structure of the donkey when placed in more ethereal contexts stands out as a firm reminder of the propensity to ignore the humble animal. While Jenny’s donkey heads maintain their footing within the ephemeral, gossamer environments where candelabras are the pivot for décor, allusions to tales yet untold abound. Wing Yee, with a surefooted delicacy wends her painterly way through nuances of conciliation and the cares of existence dissipate with the flutter of an eyelash or a butterfly kiss preserved on paper, still fragile and dewy with belief, all of our excuses of superiority. Wing Yee embraces the donkey and in doing so is a catalyst for the frog to turn princely.


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