Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts

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Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts
A Deer of nine colors -Chen-Hung Chiu Solo Exhibition
2015-03-06 ~ 2015-05-03

Artist Chen-Hung Chiu’s installations consist video and sculpture. The exhibition, A Deer of nine colors linking to his previous works The Marble Workers and Kwan Yin, develops towards a fulfillment. It centers on multiple aspects of his hometown Hualien, such as family, industry, environment and religion. Through onsite study, Chiu transforms historical and geographical knowledge about his hometown into works that illustrate a unique personal living experience.   

Wood and marble, two major factors in his recent works, are index to his practice. Gold leaves are subtly employed and applied to the surface of the old objects and to fill the gaps and scars, which seem full of stories. Such tactics, much like a sanctifying rite, transforms our sense of time. The tendency of loving for old object traces to the artist’s family history. His grandfather learned wood-construction skills in the Japanese Colonial Era and later established his own wood factory. The childhood memory was all about things associated with the wood factory. While Haulien is famous for marble industry, marble, to the artist, suggests another way of writing family history. Forestry industry was once striving in the Japanese Colonial Era. In 1971, the government limited deforestation and the marble mining industry began to boom. The stone carving of Buddha statues, thus, grew. On the other hand, he noticed that the need of foreign workers in the marble factories indicates the characteristics of the times in Taiwan. The Marble Workers, two foreign workers pushing a mine trolley round the dark factory with no expression on their faces. A creaking of the trolley became clear through the whole video. The nameless workers and the discarded trolleys appear and disappear along with the rise and fall of the industries.

The video installation Kwan Yin embodies artist ‘s continuous reflection on mining industry. In the video, we sometimes see a close-up of the partial part of the statue of Kwan Yin and sometimes of the small insects and plants. The image of organic living beings versus the inorganic stone is like a metaphor of a fleeting life versus eternity in a spiritual level. When the artist filmed onsite, he collected the wasted marble chips dropped on the ground in the Buddha statue stone-carving factory. He used the marble chips as raw material for sculpturing vivid sambar deer in various positions. The marble blocks are carved into the statues of The Goddess of Mercy, while the marble chips are gathered to make deer. The artist deliberately chooses the protected animal species living in the Eastern mountain area of Taiwan - sambar deer- as a prototype for his sculptures. On the one hand, he tries to sketch out the local environment from culture industry to nature conversation. On the other hand, deer implies spiritual exploration in the context of Buddhism. In Buddhist fables, deer often plays a role of saving either human beings or a herd and is regarded as incarnation of Buddha. The spirit of deer represents devotion, sacrifice, redemption and enlightenment. Therefore, if we imagine the wasted marble chips “sacrifice” for the birth of Buddha statues, the artist reshapes the wasted and gives it a new life.

Knowing that the artist’s upbringing in a pious Buddhist family, we seem able to see the evidences of academic background of western sculpture training in his works and associate them with his individual life. Whether the use of golden leaves, the video documentation of Kwan-Yin stone carving or the sculptures of sambar deer, the artist explores the mystery between physical and spiritual level by a sensitive sense of family history and a geographical study of the culture and the nature; and gradually he develops a set of techniques of memory restoration about religion and art.