Review Me: Tsai Hsi Hung: Color Sparks
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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Tsai Hsi Hung: Color Sparks

Tsai, thank you so much for accepting our invitation to this interview. Tell us about your artistic background story and if there was a pivotal moment when you decided to follow your path as a visual artist?

My background is in dance and choreography. From an early age, I was drawn to visual expressions and communicating through the body. My painting expresses this relationship. Even my abstract paintings are about showing movement.

Was there ever a moment of doubt to question your art career entirely?

If I run out of ideas, sometimes I can doubt my work. But this usually passes because once I begin a new painting, I feel connected to the process, and all other thoughts fall away.

Creating an artwork engages an artist so much and brings with it such an enthusiasm and joy that eliminates any kind of doubt and negativity. What is your daily routine when working in your studio?

I don't have a set routine. Most times, I work in concentrated bursts, finishing a series of paintings in a short time.

Good! Ok, now take us through your process of making your artworks.

The images come from my life. My series, The Face, is a collection of portraits: friends, family, people I have encountered, current events. Or an emotion can trigger an image in my mind. The image is usually formed in my mind before I paint.

You have recently created two series, Face and Line. Is there a central concept connecting all your works together or each series or artwork is unique?

I have a few collections that are united by themes. My most recent collections are called The Face and The Line. The Face is a series of portraits, some large, some small. I strive to capture the personality of the person on the canvas. These paintings tend to be half realistic, half abstract. I want to capture the emotion behind the face and not just a depiction. The Line is all abstract. It is concerns my movement while painting (which is very physical) and the movement of the paint as it flows across the canvas.

The titles of all the artworks in the Face collection are the same, and there is no description for them. Did you leave the understanding of the concept and message of Artwork to the viewer? I mean, would you like to give a particular interpretation of your work to your viewers or you prefer to leave the whole interpretation to your audience?

I would like everyone in the audience to come up with their own feelings concerning the work. Each person has a different experience, and I want them to bring that to the paintings.

In the Face series, each of your artworks shows a specific feeling and mood, and the painting space also helps to display these emotions more strongly. What inspires you to show all these senses? How do you seek and use inspiration for your works?

The atmosphere is very important. I often fill the room with a scent and play music, mostly classical. Bach and Chopin are two of my favorites.

There are various subjects that you have used to show the faces. How do you select your artworks subjects? Where they come from?

I am drawn to recurring themes. I love painting faces, for example. Especially, the eyes. The eyes are the strongest part. They show the connection between people.

That’s true. The eyes can speak the words when the mouth cannot. Is there an artwork or series that you would like to be remembered for? And if yes, what is it?
I would love to be remembered for my series, The Face. This series is like a diary for me. These portraits represent the models, but they show how I was feeling when I painted each one. They were painted over a few years and I continue to add to the series. So this theme is an ongoing expression that is important for me.

Your artworks make our readers feel impressed and enthusiastic because they have engaged the viewers in finding the messages in the various facial expressions. So, any upcoming works or future projects that you would like to share with our readers?

I am currently looking for an opportunity to exhibit The Face and The Line for an art show I conceived, called Room H. It will also feature choreography that will interact with the paintings.

Tsai, what are your art influences? Who are your favorite contemporary or historical artists and why?

I am inspired by Picasso, Bacon, and Pollock. I also love Cecilia Brown. Very inspiring. I saw one of her exhibits in New York a few years ago and was really moved by it.

And, if you could meet one of your ideal artists from the past, who would it be and what will you ask about?

I would love to talk with Cecily Brown. Because of the amount of detail in her painting, I wonder how she initially starts - if the painting is fully formed or if it develops while she works. It would also be great to hear her thoughts on how she approaches color.

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