Mindset • Materials • Meditation: Hwang Buh-ching

2022.12.24 - 2023.04.09 KMFA Galleries 201, 202, 203

Wu Jianan (Assistant Curator, Exhibition Department, KMFA)

Hwang Buh-ching is one of the artists who pioneered in using mixed media for artistic creation in Taiwan. He once studied modern painting under the teaching of Lee Chung-sheng. This exhibition presents a collection of Hwang’s works across different periods of his artistic creation, starting from the sketches, paintings, and works created with mixed media such as newspaper, wood, and found objects in his earlier days to his works created over recent years mainly with steel and disposed objects. His representative work, Feast in the Wild, which was selected to join the 48th Venice Biennale in 1999, is also included in this exhibition. 

This exhibition elaborates on the three dimensions of “Mindset, Materials, and Meditation” in Hwang’s artistic creation. The “Mindset” dimension demonstrates the artist’s thoughts about nature and life, the two topics at the core of his artistic creation. When he was a child, he spent a lot of time playing on the seashore in his hometown, Lukang. After he grew up, he went to Taipei for further studying and experienced its metropolitan hustle and bustle. Afterwards, he became a teacher in Dajia, a town spotted with idyllic farmland. The environmental transitions from the seashore to the city and then to the countryside inspired his exploration of nature and life through his works. In particular, the metamorphosis and death of cicadas in nature triggered his focus on the beginning and end of life with the “cicada” becoming a frequent symbol in his artistic expression of life. He later incorporated images of rubbing prints, handprints, torsos, heads, and others in his works to convey his thoughts about life. 

The “Materials” dimension represents the artist’s exploration and use of materials in his artistic creation. After Hwang completed his studying in France and returned to Taiwan, he started to incorporate “newspaper pupae” in his works in addition to his existing techniques of collage. To him, the pupae made of layers of newspaper are something like cicada pupae. When Hwang moved to Tainan, he was drawn to the ocean that he had grown familiar with back in his hometown. When he strolled on the seashore, the driftwood and litter scattered on the beach caught his attention. These objects reminded him of the sloughs left by cicadas after metamorphosis while the tenacious stickiness of the seeds of southern sandspur sprawling on the beach reminded him of the resilience of life. He started to use driftwood, found objects, and southern sandspur seeds in his artistic creation. Application of these materials is a dialogue between him and nature/civilization. In 2011, he started to create works with scrap steel and shifted his focus of artistic creation to the reflection upon civilization and industrial development. The only thing remained unchanged is his insistence on using materials found in his surrounding environment to create his works. 

The “Meditation” dimension refers to the artist’s unwavering focus on nature and life and his continuous search in natural environments for materials to be used in his works. His application of materials, his reflection upon human civilization, and his forms of art are closely interconnected with a mutual influence among one another. All together, they have brought forth Hwang’s unique rhetoric of artistic creation. 

Curatorial Consultant | J.J. Shih
Exhibition Executives: Jianan Wu, Hui-fang Wu
Supervisor | Bureau of Cultural Affairs Kaohsiung City Government
Organizer | Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts
Partner|Wenzao Ursuline University of Languages  Department of Communication Arts  &  Graduate Institute of Creative Arts Industries
Appointed Deformaldehyde Coating Sponsor | HOPAX