Su-Mei Tse is a leading contemporary artist from Luxembourg. She explores the personal perception in use of symbol, metaphor or analogy combined with universal experience. She works on various media ranging from sculptures, video, photographs or installation, all coordinating given factors in each place.
What differs her works from other artists' should be the use of musical elements as artistic vocabulary which are so naturally and constructively incorporated in her works. A case in point is her nominal L'écho, a video installation which was part of the Golden Lion Prize winning Luxembourg Pavilion of 50th Venice Biennale in 2003. The video showed the artist playing cello facing the mountains, the landscape answered with an echo slightly different from what the player was performing like a counter -point, as though the mountains had their own intentions. The music created a dialogue between the vast landscape and the small human figure. Particular is the unique style of representation which makes reference to traditional Chinese landscape painting in a contemporary way. Born to a Chinese violonist and English pianist, Tse early grew up with music as part of her daily life. In Paris, she studied visual arts accompanied by musical studies at the conservatory with focus on chamber music.
Gradually she incorporated musical practice into her visual art practice and created visual representations of musical notes, scores and performance: A slow travelling shot through trees with illuminations, like singing notes in the mistletoe of winter branches, or a vinyl record with an astronomical-like constellation of “dust”, a device for listening to silence before the music starts are such examples.
Moony Tunes newly made for the artist's exhibition in Japan will also be a reflection on perception through the moon and its poetic existence and impact on earth. In an old house of Honjima Island in Setouchi Inland Sea, Tse installs a large-scaled natural stone, a rare bluish onyx disc of 220cm diameter opposite to hanging volcanic stones. The tension emphasized by the rhythm of red strings coming from above reflects the relation between the moon and the ebb and flow of the tides, the connections between the sea and the great cosmos. During her first visit on the island, Tse was seized and attracted by the ascetic and austere atmosphere emanating from the house, a feeling of solitude and introspection. The audience will experience the share of this feeling through the whispering sound composition discreetly displayed in the house. The impact of the architecture and materials may be a new direction that the artist challenges at this occasion.
A week after the opening of Setouchi Triennale’s Autumn Season, the solo exhibition Moony Tunes (II) by Su-Mei Tse will open at Art Front Gallery, Tokyo. The exhibition echoes with that of Honjima, a continuation of the project where the artist explores the material of natural stone.
This time, the artist uses the deep and impressive appearance of the marble as texture for a series that she considers like paintings. In the spirit of a musical score, she creates a visual composition through a variation of moon phases. The gallery space will be animated by rhythmic circles, light and color, maybe tuning the distant sound of the waves from the sea…
Further, in our gallery the artist presents small sculptures from her series entitled Nested. They refer to the Chinese scholar stones which, back in time have been appreciated by Chinese scholars for their natural shape. Displayed in the studios as natural element, they served as inspiring sources in literature and paintings. Here, Tse creates playful compositions, using the naturally shaped indentation of the stone to delicately depose colored mineral spheres. The nestled balls recall the game of marbles, a popular world spread children’s game with round objects mostly in marble, glass or clay. They represent historical and emotional universes and relations between Eastern and Western culture.
From the outset, Su-Mei Tse has several cultural backgrounds, crossover the border between music and visual arts in search of sensory qualities and emotions through a universal language. She claims humorously and playfully the "personality of potatoes" with her potato works in ceramics made during her stay in Echigo-Tsumari 2006. Ten years later, we can now expect here in a remote yet intimate country of Japan, her development always related to individuality and existence in realtion to nature and the wider universe.
For the realization of the exhibitions, Su-Mei Tse worked in close collaboration with her partner Jean-Lou Majerus. For the musical composition of the installation in Honjima, she worked with the New York based musician and composer Giancarlo Vulcano.