Chinese Artist Canal Cheong Jagerroos Brings Her "Floating Island" to Miami

Canal Cheong Jagerroos takes art lovers to her "Floating Island."
Canal Cheong Jagerroos takes art lovers to her "Floating Island." Tranter-Sinni Gallery
Hemingway had A Moveable Feast, but the artist Canal Cheong Jagerroos has a different metaphor for her life: "Floating Islands."

“I’ve been living in so many different cultures, so in many ways my whole life I’ve been floating around,” she says.

The 51-year-old Chinese painter and sculptor came up with the concept to describe the border-crossing existence she’s lived. Born on the island of Hainan in the south of China, she spent much of her upbringing in nearby Macau, the semiautonomous territory that was once a Portuguese colonial possession. Her family was artistic — her father painted and her mother was an opera singer — and she and her brother and two sisters all learned traditional Chinese painting. From there, she went to art school in Guangzhou in mainland China, and her last three decades have seen her live in seven countries. Her children were born in France and Switzerland, and she splits her time among Helsinki, Nice, Berlin, Shanghai, and Tokyo.

Now she brings that spirit to Miami, a similarly mixed-up city that, like Macau, thrives on its tourist economy. “Floating Islands — Realm of Wonder,” opening at Tranter-Sinni Gallery in Little River, will present an immersive environment where Eastern and Western art practices collide, where Chinese calligraphy and layers of rice paper cohabit with mixed media, bright textiles, sculptures, and wall-size canvases. Is it a commentary on globalization, or a reaction to one individual's years on the road? Viewers will have to decide for themselves.

“Different cultures have a big influence in my work, and they become part of my work too, very subconsciously,” she says. “You can feel it kind of has Oriental roots, but I’m sure you can find elements that are influenced by the West... I don’t know how to detail them — it’s just how I express myself.”

At every location it has exhibited, from previous editions in Finland to upcoming stops in Paris and Stockholm, the piece changes slightly. Jagerroos reuses materials and introduces new elements, accumulating and adding as if collecting mementos. Visitors won’t know what to expect until they step inside the interactive environment. Meanwhile, Jagerroos is planning more museum shows, another Miami exhibition during Art Week, and other showings.

“I hope the time comes that I can do a ‘Floating Islands’ retrospective including all the exhibitions and materials,” she says. “That’s my dream.”

Canal Cheong Jagerroos' "Floating Islands — Realm of Wonder." Saturday, October 19, through Monday, January 20, 2020, at Tranter-Sinni Gallery, 255 NE 69th St., Miami; 305-849-7999;
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Douglas Markowitz is a former music and arts editorial intern for Miami New Times. Born and raised in South Florida, he studied at Sophia University in Tokyo before earning a bachelor's in communications from University of North Florida. He writes freelance about music, art, film, and other subjects.