The Artsy Vanguard 2019: Tishan Hsu
Tishan Hsu. Courtesy of the artist and Empty Gallery, Hong Kong.
Tishan Hsu, Boating Scene 1.1.3, 2019. Courtesy of the artist and Empty Gallery, Hong Kong.
Tishan Hsu’s multimedia work from the 1980s and ’90s radiates a dingy, lo-fi buzz. His muted paintings feature bumps, orifices, and ridges that suggest bodies in fragments or seen through an X-ray. Some paintings protrude from the wall, given dynamic heft with layered styrofoam; a number of sculptures integrate similar corporeal motifs with bathroom tiles, carts, and cages. Looking at Hsu’s work, one might think of hospitals, basements, and old-timey computer parts. The artist has “anticipated so many concerns that younger artists are dealing with in their work today,” said Whitney Museum of American Art curator Christopher Y. Lew, “especially in relation to technology and the body.” Lew added that he believes Hsu is a role model for Asian-Americans in the art world.
Though he enjoyed a blip of recognition in the 1980s, Hsu quickly fell out of favor as bold new painting styles and the Pictures Generation commanded popular attention. However, as technology has advanced (along with our affiliated anxieties), Hsu’s work has come back in favor. Now in his late sixties, the artist is busier than ever. In 2018, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Hessel Museum of Art, and New York gallery Downs & Ross all showed Hsu’s work. Hong Kong’s Empty Gallery now represents the artist, who will enjoy a solo presentation organized by SculptureCenter that will debut at Los Angeles’s Hammer Museum in 2020.