Fig 1.1 Journey
Fig. 1.2 Space4
Fig. 1.3 Formosa Island
Fig. 1.4 Isolated Island
Fig. 1.5The Nature within my Body
Fig. 1.6 The Study of Palm in 31 days
I have always wondered whether I can perceive and grasp the world, explore all contemporary issues, catch up on varied trends and convey with borderless communication through a subject most primary and simple. My work is a genre of figurative painting; focusing on hand presentation. For me, the hand, as the extension of the body, is the connection between man and the world as well as the concrete representation of “change”. Thus I chose it as my subject to discuss man’s interaction with his world.
Hands, being flexible and expressive, are capable of translating everything into a special artistic language. I use the hand to present the dynamic world, aiming to create a new artistic language to color my work with symbolic meanings. In earlier paintings, I had focused on human interaction and its interdependence to depict the relationship of society and humanity, using dynamic gestures of composition to render symbolic meanings. The recent paintings focus on the relation between humanity and nature, using the static hand to simulate nature and simplify the composition to highlight the atmosphere. The use of microscopic perspective changes the hand, from a mere appendage of the human body, into sublime and tranquil scenery of nature.
The origin of the idea for this series can be traced back to my childhood. I lived in a traditional Taiwanese religious-family. I had realized that although the sculptures of Bodhisattva and the immortals my parents were praying to looked similar to one another, they were easily recognizable through their hand gestures. I had realized that the hand is one that we are overly familiar with and deeply rooted in everybody’s minds, but they are easily ignored.
In Journey (Fig 1.1), youthful hands are arranged in a circle. The “heart lines” of each of the hands are connected together to form another circle within the circle. It symbolizes destiny, which ties us in a circle that never ends. The artistic technique that I always apply is realism, because I am fascinated by the details of nature. By representing the realistic, I can study the physical phenomena of natural elements, such as texture, color, light, solidity, etc. In this way, nature itself is presented rather than imitated, with various personal features and emotions branded into the paintings harmoniously.
In Space (Fig. 1.2), digital technology helps shape the hand into a special space in my mind. As it’s unable to explore our hands entirely by the naked eye, I use digital technology and micro-photography to supply more perspectives that are scientific, unconscious and microscopic. When I watch the photo, I can see a totally different world. Moreover, the micro-world crashes through the boundary between man and nature, making the painting more fantastic. In my opinion, the micro-world formed through digital photography is a kind of illusion. The illusion created by the hand expresses emotions and scenery both airy and warm.
The hand features duality as it has two sides, i.e., the inside and outside, the top and bottom, as well as the front and back. The hand is like an island between two spaces, i.e. the air and sea, isolating the two spaces. The hand detached from the body is like a floating island in the universe. I isolate the hand from the human body, trying to break the boundary between culture and nature, with the expectation to make it more splendid. The veins are like a decoration of green leaves; the skin like the texture of stone and soft soil.
In Formosa Island (Fig. 1.3) and Isolated Island (Fig. 1.4), the hand is shaped like an island in an isolated sea, representing the current situation of Taiwan. After studying in the U.K., I was moved by the cultural differences between Taiwan and England; the influence of colonial and post-colonial culture which led me to make the paintings. The black water symbolizes the Black Ditch that had meant an impassable gap for the Han immigrants during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The hand reflects light whereas the black sea is bereft of light forms a strong conflict. The beautiful island in the static scene represents the abstract emotions of wildness, calm, hope and steadfastness. The wrinkled hand symbolizes the hardiness and diligence of the Han immigrants; the powerful joints, the great power hidden in the island; and the black and gloomy sea the Taiwan Strait (Black Ditch), symbolizing anxiety and confusion of the youth as to the future.
Recently, I discover and expand the image of hand. I am convinced that hand is not only a media but also a key to find fundamental of change in the world. In my recent woodcarving The Nature within my Body (Fig. 1.5), I tried to build a micro-landscape via tree mixed with my hand. I do not only carve the tree by my hand image, but also carve it variably to follow the instruction of the structure and grain of the tree. I combined the tree and the hand to symbolize the combination of culture and nature, or the material and the spiritual. The transparent epoxy used in the work symbolizes the water that is the essence of the cosmos and forms rivers in hands, and also symbolizes the eternal and dynamic spring existing between man and nature and the flexibility that is the core power of all existences.
In The Study of Palm in 31 days (Fig. 1.6), I am inspired by my childhood memory that I was always fascinated by taking off and observing the duplicate skin of my palm made with gel after art class. Hand is my diary that records everything I have experienced and done. Skin of my hand is a boundary of the space and essence of my communication with the outside world. It can add, thickening by touch with outside world. It can be reduced, becoming an own evidence of existence. It can multiply, making a repeated mark on surface. It can be divided, being deformation to conform the external world. Skin of hand is an amazing material that conveys the fundamental of change. I have applied the epoxy to preserve my duplicate skin that is a part of me for a month.