Friends and Strangers is a group exhibition by 4 New York-based artists Blake Daniels, Daniel Morowitz, Billy Sullivan, and Scout Zabinski who explore the diaristic potential of figuration to Hong Kong and depicting themselves (real or imagined) as their friends, or their lovers.
In every painting, there is a barrier to entry: the coded personal or cultural symbols of queer mythology in Daniel Morowitz’s paintings, medicine bottles and longings in the portrait of Scout Zabinski, painted by Blake Daniels, the ominous or spooky apparitions in the movie, and the indifferent gaze Billy Sullivan captures in his subject, immediately invites the audience while always keeping a certain distance from them.
From figurative abstraction, magical realism to self-portrait, the works are shown in “Friends and Strangers” all emphasize the way in which the gaze and the subject are integrated into their respective reality. The mosaic fusion of the characters embodied in the paintings of “Friends” with the coexisting reality of queer space, imaginary space, or physical space is influential, honest, original, and sincere. These characters were blatantly exposed, while desperately hiding in conspicuous places. Each different composition has a centrality—as if each character is captured in the midfield spotlight, revealing the tension between their acceptance and voyeurism or contempt. These works rely on the participation of the audience as active and responsible observers rather than passive observers.