Echo and Reflection of Nature - Commentary on Wu Hsichi 's Creative World

Powen Gallery
Apr 19, 2019 7:36AM

Text / Tao Wen-Yue (Art Critic)

Artists come in many forms. Some are very initiative and resourceful at promoting themselves while others are introverted and prefer being anonymous and reclusive. Taiwanese artist Wu Hsichi is of the latter. Reticent in personality, he prefers staying removed from the masses, turning to creation and living in the quiet of nature. From a certain perspective, it is a self-exile of introspection, and that trait of loneliness is manifested in all his works.

Born in 1965 in Jinguashih in the Ruifang District of New Taipei City, W Wu Hsichi loves art due to the inspiration and influence of his father. He had wanted to be a painter since he was five years old. He did not graduate from any fine art school. As such, his artistic creations are not shackled by the theoretical frameworks and techniques of art institutes. Instead, this allowed him to freely exert his creativity in his works. His painting media is richly diverse, and includes sketches, watercolors, oils, ink, composite media and oil pastels. He also writes calligraphy, and greatly enjoys experimenting and trying different artistic creations. For a long time, Wu Hsichi has painted abstract paintings, which were displayed in several solo exhibitions. His abstracts are dominated by light, shadow and the flow of water, with incidental revelations of the spirit and effect of experimentation. This particular inspiration came upon him during his year of work as a security guard for a container company. During his frequent night shifts, he observed the fluctuating aura of the tires and other objects inside the containers, the water, the light and the shadows. From the changing flowing of points and lines, he found creativity. From a visual microscopic view, his works look like elements of dividing cells that are merging and reproducing. However, explored from a macroscopic aesthetic perspective, his works seem tied to the universe though; they feel more like his personal spiritual exploration in essence. I believe a person who has meditated would more clearly understand. As we let our eyes close and channels open during the quiet of meditation, our mind wanders and gradually merges as one with our pulse. That state of physical and mental integration conveys us beyond time and space, and this state of "emptiness" is an interesting spiritual experience. Wu Hsichi 's abstract paintings can be best described with this spiritual impression.

In recent years, Wu Hsichi has returned from abstract painting to exploring figurative painting. In considering the perspective from which to gain insight into his creation, I think that an immersed sense of "homesickness" in his heart emanates from his works. Naturally, "homesickness" varies with individuals. Humans are emotional beings. Those who have left and lived away from home for a long time will essentially feel nostalgic and embrace memories of their hometown. If the hometown is away in another country, then that nostalgia for home is even more intense. "Homesickness" may certainly be at a spiritual level. For example, land, environment, folklore, culture, history and race can trigger "homesickness". Wu Hsichi had lived in Dominica for a year. He later returned to Taiwan due to differences over business philosophy with his family, and his parents could not reconcile to his action. Despite his loss of monetary support, he was determined to create, albeit alone. Such strong will is necessary for a mindful artist. Fortunately, along his artistic journey, the support from numerous benefactors and friends enabled him to persist without being alone.

Wu Hsichi had also worked in garden landscaping and interior design. His love of natural landscape was gradually incorporated into his compositions. Those who have seen Japanese Zen gardens will be fascinated by the spatial transformations where in vast spaces, craggy rocks become mountains and fine gravel become water. Japanese monks used rake to create patterns of flowing water on the surface of white sand, forming a small cosmology of natural Zen. The original likeness of flowing water, so transparent and endless, visually represented on white grains of sand allows us to experience the rhythmic lines of such circulation and its wealth of Zen effect. Wu Hsichi's images contain both portraits of people and natural landscapes. What captures interest is the winding cycles of colored lines that constantly circulate in the painting, like a flowing aura from the life of his art plucking at our vision and inner feelings.

Wu Hsichi's creations do not end with the revelations and venting of personal emotions. His creations of circularly entangled lines of colors are prompted by his feeling about the overly rapid development of human technology and its universal devastation to the natural environment. By surrounding both the inside and outside of his landscapes with tightly entangled lines, he delivers warnings about the oppression of human technology on nature so that viewers can sense the contrast with the beautiful natural landscape of the past. He said, "Every painting is only a fragment of life's journey. Being able to spend your lifetime painting the images of your heart is such a blessing!" He also constantly reflects, "Who am I? Why am I here? When will I return? " These words remind me of the oil painting "Where Do We Come From? What Are We Doing? Where Are We Going?" by Post-Impressionist artist, Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin (1848-1903). Considered his masterpiece, Gauguin was inspired by the mysteries in his personal phantoms, and his questions and exploration of human life, death, time, space and eternity. In his sensitivity and melancholy, I can deeply feel Wu Hsichi's longing for the natural environment, thus his move from Puli to Yilan, and recent seeming seclusion into creation. He said "I like beauty, but I also like quiet. " In his view toward life, he believes, "People do not have to be rich. The family being safe and goodness are most important." At the invitation of Powen Gallery in Taipei, Wu Hsichi will be holding a solo exhibition entitled "Lines in between Void" from April 20-May 19, 2019. I believe that for him, boundary has long ceased to exist between the inside and the outside. These expressions of lines and colors will lead us to deeply listen to and experience their inner natural spirit.

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