27 NOVEMBER 2021 - 22 JANUARY 2022
27 NOVEMBER, 4:30 p.m.
Within the immutable present reality, art hijacks our will, and disrupts that which has ossified.
— Chiu Chen Hung
Mold on walls, brick walls, asphalt roads, and underground streams, nameless potted plants, traces of concrete, abandoned animal statues, and slices of light and shadow in cultural heritage sites: In recent years Chiu Chen Hung has homed in on mass urban remains, and centered his practice on reshaping the past reality in his personal memory through the act of building, effacing, and conjuring light and shadow. Conceived as a continuation of Chiu’s 2020 project "Daylighting," which tackles historical landscapes and the idea of boundary, TKG+ Projects is pleased to present Embroidered Swallows Across Original Jungle, the artist’s latest creative experiment. The exhibition title originates from the names of the artist’s grandparents: Viewers are free to see “Embroidered” (Hsiu) and “Original” (Yuan) as adjective/noun/verb in their own interpretation of the title. Through this play on Chinese homophones , Chiu offers the viewer an abstract, organic, and undefined scenery, where the exhibition venue morphs into a searingly poetic space that cradles Chiu’s intimate investigation of the primordial state of nature within the concrete jungle.
As an artist who works with installation and sculpture, Chiu anticipates the latent capacity of art to blur boundaries, with a belief that art can carry (or in his words, “hijack”) our will, so as to disrupt the impasse between opposing forces. He applies the sense of empathy from his earlier study of boundaries to his current creative process, where he experiences light and shadow from the perspective of his subject in the space. By recontextualizing his works in the space, he explores the symbiotic balance between the aesthetics of sculpture and heterogeneous materials. The artist accentuates the quality of each medium in his work, in an attempt to bring forth the medium’s vitality and essence, allowing it to exist on its own terms in his installation. Filled with tenderness and fantasy, Chiu’s work rearticulates the epochal narrative of each medium in its history of use, outside of human experience.
“Daylighting” is an excavation process that exposes subterranean rivers and underground ditches (mostly buried due to urban construction) to the surface by removing soil above them. Chiu’s relief work, Daylighting, inherits the term’s denotation and connotation: In what form, and from what angle, does light seep into a space? The artist connects fragments of light and shadow to the landscape of his personal history, tracing window frames and foliage outside the window, each silhouette a fugacious moment engraved in concrete. The ashen white of putty serves as daylight in Chiu’s work, whereas the engraved surface, given form through carving, becomes the subtle texture that the artist longs to materialize.
The work Embroidered Swallows is an extension of Chiu’s work, Concrete Zoo (2020). The artist surveys concrete animal statues, hidden and abandoned across Taiwan’s mountain woods. Using 3D printing, he proportionally enlarges the wear and tear endured by these statues, as well as the subsequent cracks and crannies. Then, mixing brass with natural minerals, Chiu produces multiple terrazzo sculptures of varying sizes. These enlarged defects in the animal statues, suspended in midair upon industrial cranes in the gallery space, translate into an allegory of plastic arts hidden in our society’s passing generations, in the evolution of construction materials. The work Original Jungle is composed of sheet metal, earth mounds, and vegetation. The installation appears to be a knoll of wilderness, with plants that have been gathered from different locations and replanted to mimic a natural scene. It encapsulates the idea of an untouched forest, nestled peacefully next to scaffolding, both sprouting upwards, in a parallel between the natural and the urban.
This exhibition employs a number of mediums and technologies that were born out of industrialization. By juxtaposing mixed and diversified materials, the artist leaves distinct clues for the viewer that aim to remap our understanding of natural vs. artificial, organic vs. man-made, whole vs. incomplete. These motifs become an integral part of his sculpture practice, where his materials marry with a diverse creative approach, shaping an alternative aesthetics. Ultimately, Chiu Chen Hung:Embroidered Swallows Across Original Jungle is a gesture toward nature, where weeds, rubble, scaffolding, and rebar coalesce into a scene on the periphery that evokes a pedestrian glance at a construction site soon forgotten in our daily commute — at once ruined, deserted, pallid, even poetic.