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TISHAN HSU’s paintings and sculptures evoke nightmarish visions of the body’s forced integration with its technological surrounds. After a spate of exhibitions in the 1980s at venues including Pat Hearn Gallery and Leo Castelli, the artist’s work largely disappeared from public view. Now, New York’s SculptureCenter has organized the survey “Tishan Hsu: Liquid Circuit.” The show debuted at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, this past winter and was slated to open at SculptureCenter in May before being postponed in the wake of Covid-19. To mark this occasion, Artforum invited artist MATTHEW RONAY and art historian LANE RELYEA to reflect on Hsu’s dark, prescient, and singularly weird oeuvre.
The Japanese Artist Turning Fruits and Vegetables Into Sculpture. Ikebana’s most irreverent practitioner, the 80-year-old Kosen Ohtsubo, finds beauty in the banal. On a January afternoon, in his stained-wood-floored studio in the Tokyo suburb of Tokorozawa, the artist Kosen Ohtsubo fingered a large cabbage leaf, its edges a bit too curled and droopy for a salad. “It’s about three days old,” he said. “Great material.”
‘A journey has to be arduous’ says Jes Fan, one of the artists shortlisted for this year’s BMW Art Journey, alongside sculptor Leelee Chan and artist duo Enzo Camacho and Amy Lien. Since 2015, BMW and Art Basel’s joint initiative enables an artist to develop a new project almost anywhere in the world. Previous winners have visited Jerusalem, the Bikini Atoll, the Southern Indian state of Kerala, and Ghana.
Book: In Praise of Shadows (1933) by Junichiro Tanizaki
This book-length essay led gallerist Stephen Cheng to reconsider what’s missing from our daily aesthetic experiences. In the work, Tanizaki—a famous Japanese novelist who was shortlisted for the Nobel Prize in 1964—espouses a mindful appreciation of the world around him. Tanizaki embraces darkness and obscurity, which can be deeply disconcerting to many of us—especially in times of crisis. Cheng’s favorite quote from the essay reflects on this theme. Tanizaki writes: “To snatch away from us even the darkness beneath trees that stand deep in the forest is the most heartless of crimes.”
Tishan Hsu: Liquid Circuit is the New-York-based artist’s first museum survey exhibition in the United States. The exhibition traces Hsu’s key ideas and demonstrates how they clearly resonate in the works of younger artists coming of age today. In the mid-1980s Hsu began a series of works that considered the implications of the accelerated use of technology and artificial intelligence and their impact on the body and human condition.
Perspectives: shaping the world through visual culture
The first talk of the program will be led by New York-based artist Jes Fan, with his lecture titled Leakages, Puddles, Discharge, Infections and Bubbles… Jes Fan’s trans-disciplinary practice emerges from a sustained inquiry into the concept of otherness. Primarily working in the field of expanded sculpture, Fan navigates the slippery complexities of identity as guided by the tactile and material histories of his chosen media.
James T. Hong, an Asian American documentary filmmaker based in Taiwan, also makes sculpture and video projections. At Hong Kong’s Empty Gallery, Hong shows boxes made from frosted glass, illuminated from within and ostentatiously padlocked. Shifting shadow-play hints at creepy, undiscernible contents of a vaguely taxidermal sort secreted inside the boxes. A luminous video projection on a side wall is little more than a glowing blur.
Since the 1970s, Tishan Hsu’s practice has been nurtured by a cosmology that perceives a unity of heaven and humanity. His works often present clinical trials and tribulations where one can see the body exploded. The concern is not to locate the body in relation to technology, but to reconstitute the body anew. By Hera Chan
Co-organised by Empty Gallery’s long term friend Xper. Xr. and The Xevarion Institute. Tickets are available from the link below – hope to see you there!
January 22, 2020, 7 – 10PM
Chan Shu Kui City Hall, North Point 北角 陳樹渠大會堂
Installation view, James T. Hon
Image courtesy of the artist and Empty Gallery.
The Thing, 2019
Image courtesy of the artist and Empty gallery.
Installation view, James T. Hong, Felix Art Fair, 2020.
The Other Thing, 2019