Creating through Chaos: Art of Hsu Tzu-kuey

2018.06.30 - 2018.09.30 KMFA Galleries 301-304

Over the past years, the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts (KMFA) has attempted to explore the artistic and cultural system that has been influencing the regional development of Kaohsiung by taking the theoretic perspective of “Art of the South” or “local art”. However, the system in question ultimately comes down to and is also based on the personal expressions of “artists” and the levels of their involvement with this land rather than on empty geopolitical concepts or art slogans.
After the 1990s, the development of modern art in Kaohsiung more or less started to connect with contemporary trends and engage in interdisciplinary experiments. This change should be attributed to a group of young artists who were born and grew up in Kaohsiung. In addition to their strong attachment to and expectation of this land, they were also driven by their ideals and ambitions of artistic creation. They had unlimited aspirations for the future. Even after they went or settled down abroad for further studying or for a living and eventually gained high recognition in foreign lands, they never forgot their homeland in their zealous pursuits of artistic creation.

Through exhibitions and publications, they enthusiastically organized and mobilized the force of their peers. Through artistic organizations and media, they tried to disrupt those thoughts deposited and fossilized over a long period of time in this land. These young artists, who were deemed as scourges by conservatives back then, are now mostly “senior artists” already past their middle age or even close to the retirement age. Life in reality has softened their edges. Back in those years, they were all ambitious and outstanding writers and artists with their own eye-catching styles. Their competition with one another inspired more energy of artistic creation out of them and gave them a certain level of influence on Taiwan’s art world.
Among these “legendary young artists”, Hsu Tzu-kuey can be seen as one of the leading figures. Born in 1955 in Kaohsiung, a city of passion, Hsu has spent most of his life in nothing else but artistic creation. During his junior high school days, he was encouraged and started his journey of artistic creation. Inspired by nature and his teachers at the Kaohsiung Senior High School, he laid a solid foundation for his outstanding command of techniques in the future. The training and learning in the Department of Fine Arts, National Taiwan Normal University, triggered his experiments outside the realm of realism. His further studying at the Pratt Institute in New York opened up his horizon, inspiring him to pursue more enthusiastically those media and expression methods suitable for him.
After he graduated and returned to Taiwan, Hsu applied his versatile talent and unrestrained ambition for artistic development in fields such as artistic creation, writing, teaching, administration, and art dealing. He accumulated different life experiences in positions ranging from associate professor, professor, department chairperson, college dean, president of art school to gallery manager. His professional development and artistic creation are like two crisscrossed, intertwined but occasionally parallel lines, stimulating his always active right and left brains.
In each stage of Hsu’s artistic development, his works mostly take the form of “series” for his artistic experiments and self-exploration endeavors. This tendency allows his works to evolve, multiply and expand into colonies. With his in-depth life experiences in different fields, he cannot stay in one certain type of “frame” or “form” for a long period of time. Always critical and self-reflective, he creates the concept of “Three-dimensional painting” and infuses strong colors and clear brushstroke-like textures into his sculptures. Throughout his journey, he has always committed himself to his belief of “being different from others” no matter how others think or talk about him.
This exhibition, Creating through Chaos: Art of Hsu Tzu-kuey, is a “biography” of Hsu. With over 300 splendid works, this exhibition gives us a review of those exciting 45 years (from 1973 to 2018) of Hsu’s artistic development. Due to the limitations of time and space, we can only see part of the phenomenal results of Hsu’s artistic creation. Nevertheless, thanks to the generosity of the Akui Art Museum and private collectors in lending their treasured collections, we have this rare opportunity to summon these cute funny-looking creatures from Planet Pandora to come down to Earth and show themselves in front of us.

The colony of Chameleons in Migration on their debut. The Intoxicating Beauty that reflect the unique female beauty in the eyes of a mid-aged man. The Mask and Era of Beasts that reflect and ridicule different facets of society. The Chinese Zodiac series that mixes the genes of animals with the genes of human desires. The guarding deities from the Guardian series who make an awesome appearance in the mortal world with their hand gestures of love. All these works are playing their roles in a film that combines fairytales and social realism for adults. In each scene of the film, there are hidden off-screen narratives from deep inside the heart of Akui. Do you hear them?