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Light That Was Forgotten, Back to the Night: Ai-hua Hsia Solo Exhibition

2021/8/7 ~ 2021/9/18
2021/08/07 15:00
  • Artist’s Word

These were glimpses of my residence in Romania in summer 2019. Though they were merely daily incidents back then, they have become untouchable strings of light that glimmer at night after a year has passed.

 

I was ready for my residency in Europe, as usual. During the long ride after being picked up from the airport, the curator told me, a renowned giant local tree was struck by sudden lightning and fell while they were preparing my wood material. Thus the crude wood which no one could have ever carved on became my medium for creation, and I was no longer bewildered by such unbelievable things happening to me. The curator was seriously describing the size of that tree; I was picturing the Yggdrasill in anime and hence, the image of my own Yggdrasill appeared in my mind.

 

It was a 5-6 hours ride from the airport to the place where I was going to reside. Though in summer, it was only 12 degrees Celsius; a rainstorm caught us when we crossed the mountain peak. The lumpy muddy road made this ride seem even longer. I wondered if we’ve arrived at another world, for in this town, there are bird nests about 2m diameter on every rooftop and every utility pole in which inhabited fairly large birds. Being excited, I left the car, attempting to take their pictures. Presently a huge bird flew down toward me and landed at the height between my chest and waist. I nervously thought it was better not to approach. The curator thrillingly introduced this kind of white crane from Africa—every summer they travel here to escape the heat. The locals adore them so much that they set cameras in their nests while the birds were absent, broadcasted by a specified television channel, the rating surpassed all the other channels. This made me sympathetic toward these bird idols.

 

As I pondered these bird’s right of privacy, our car suddenly stopped, for we were already surrounded by a herd of buffaloes. Or, should I say, we had bumped into their route to their home. Each buffalo was huge and much more taller than our car. One of them ran towards us and almost scared me to death the moment I rolled my window down to get a better look, almost scared me to death. From the curator we learned that every household in this town has several buffaloes and they become this huge herd—more than a hundred buffaloes. They grazed together, but they would all return to each of their homes when the evening came, requiring no one to be in charge or lead their way. This first appeared like a mere fairy tale to me. Hence it was all because our car had been in their way, which irritated them and therefore they ran toward us. Everything was explained with reason.

 

The place where artists resided was a local ancient art museum, the artists all stayed in a great mansion and created works together; my work was of great size because my crude wood was truly huge. The curator told me how local bears from the mountains robbed residents’ orchards for food—though such things happen everywhere around the world, but these bears seem to be very significant beings to the locals and this had led to quarrels between people with different opinions on two extremes. My Giant tree must also be very significant, I thought, and thus, with the piece of wood, I  made a sculpture of a bear riding the clouds, as if it were informing people about serious problems happening in the mountains. This piece is The Parable of Bear.

 

At the end of this residency the famous dog in town came to our mansion. It was a very unique dog, mysterious yet very clean, and always looks at each of us with a sincere stare. We always kept the heat on for it was still low temperature, and therefore everyone’s room door was shut tightly. As I came out of the bathroom after a show, I encountered this dog laying in the middle of the room as if it had been living here for years. Since I’m allergic to dogs, we had to ask it to leave, but it did not move a single bit however we pursued it to. Eventually there was no other way but pushing it out of the door. It howled suddenly, similar to a wolf howl, at the moment it was out, and right away all the dogs in the town barked along with it. Though I had no idea what that could mean, it still left a marvelous impression.

 

After residence in Romania, we all visited Prague, Czech and Vienna, Austria. Prague is a quite ancient city with an impression of remaining in historic time, yet with numerous visitors. Instead of doves, the street performer clown shows us time-traveling moths. Standing under the bell tower, one feels as if neither time or distance have ever changed Prague, they only circle along with the spiral staircase og the bell tower. The tale of the Prague cathedral being the devil’s cathedral was repeatedly told in museums and art museums—that a severe plague came during the devil’s fall, which brought a creepy atmosphere along with Jewish tomb in the city. While in Vienna, instead of the glamours Gustav Klimt, I was most attracted by Egon Shieler’s profoundness—specifically, his works after having caught the Spanish flu lingered in my mind. And hence we came to 2019, where humans entered an endless night.

 

  Like a parallel universe, Taiwan was a place to which the world envied while the coronavirus was widespread around the world. I was invited to Amagasaki city, Hyogo, Japan in summer 2020 when the pandemic situation slightly calmed down. For the pandemic had caused depression to many, a sum of people commited suicide due to depression, and the number of death by suicide already surpassed the number by the pandemic—it was their wish to invite artworks from Taiwan which, the pandemic had been properly controled, and thus empowers local citizens to fight on with this pandemic situation. Hence I brought my Warrior series from Until the Rain Stops and a new piece, Floating City, which was created according to the theme of Amagasaki city. But the epidemic started heating up during my exhibition. Over 100 visitors came to the opening and everyone was eager to hear encouraging and uplifting words from me in person, for it had been nearly a year without going out to meet with friends, hanging out or having a cheerful chat—and the epidemic seemed to have no end. This was my first time feeling able to comfort and uplift others as an artist, via my works. Although I felt the tension of going into an infected area  at such a severe period, traveling also required a quarantine, countless time and effort, but ultimately over 400 people visited the exhibition and many left us letters with thankful messages, which demonstrates how the exhibition empowered them to keep on. This made me immensely proud of being an artist.

 

The pandemic still has not decreased this year and the entire world is still in darkness of fear. I have portrayed these daily life glimmers from the past as I represent them via my works, with a wish to light up the depressed, fearful corner in everyone’s heart.