KunstWorks is thrilled to announce two upcoming group exhibitions featuring work from the Ed Aulerich-Sugai Collection and Archive: With(out) With(in) the very moment at the San Francisco Art Commission (SFAC) Galleries; and Precarious Lives, presented by the Queer Cultural Center and Creative Labor at SOMArts Cultural Center.
With(out) With(in) the very moment is organized by independent curator Margaret Tedesco for the SFAC Galleries, and will highlight Aulerich-Sugai’s artwork from the late 1980s alongside the work of artists living with HIV today. The show includes selections from Aulerich-Sugai’s series Ghosts and Demons and Power in Storage: Samurai Masks and Helmets, as well as a unique four-panel work on paper from 1988 titled He Cries, She Cries: Homage to our Sisters. This large work presents a moving narrative of anguish at the cellular level. The exhibition runs from April 18–June 22.
Precarious Lives will be the third and final installment of a trilogy of exhibitions titled The Turning, Queerly curated by Rudy Lemcke for Creative Labor. Precarious Lives builds on the foundational work of philosopher Judith Butler’s notion of “precarity.” The term is used in the context of this exhibition as a condition that expresses the fundamental vulnerability of life. Lemcke considers the underlying conditions of human vulnerability as the site of care and futurity realized through the transformational labor of art. The exhibition features a painting from Aulerich-Sugai’s series Xrays, which depicts skeletal images of hands and wrists, and will be on view at SOMArts Cultural Center from June 6–29.
In 1987, following his diagnosis with HIV-related illness, Aulerich-Sugai began a series of drawings and paintings called Cells, which includes over 100 paintings and drawings. From oil on canvas to mixed media on paper, the work displays a broad range of approaches to color, abstraction, and form. The series represents the artist’s process of “looking at the virus inside,” examining the body at a cellular and molecular level as a step toward regaining control over it.
“Being diagnosed with ARC profoundly affected my life, but I found that telling my family and friends equally traumatized them,” Aulerich-Sugai wrote. “I wanted to show that trauma, and deep sadness in ‘Homage to Our Sisters.’”
Similarly, the Xray paintings visualize the structures of the body beneath the skin, making unsettling and ghostly images out of clinical documents.
Ed Aulerich-Sugai (1950–1994) was an Asian American artist, writer, gardener, and AIDS activist. Primarily a representational painter, he drew inspiration from traditional Japanese mythology and iconography, which he transformed through a contemporary lens. His work also draws upon the anatomy of humans and animals to explore the power and fragility of life. Aulerich-Sugai died of AIDS in 1994. A quarter-century later, his work stands as a unique document of his seven-year experience of living with the disease. The oeuvre includes journals, paintings, and works on paper spanning the artist’s career, from the 1970s through the last months of his life.