Hsu Yung Hsu: Body * Transcending

By Ke-Wei, Shih | Ceramics Art & Perception, December 2008 | Go to article overview
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Hsu Yung Hsu: Body * Transcending


Ke-Wei, Shih, Ceramics Art & Perception


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HSU IS A PERSON WHO HAS NEVER STOPPED living and has never stopped creating. He can be called a teacher under a national education system, or an athlete, or even a music performer but I prefer calling him a producer of life. Playing different roles at different times, Hsu is concerned about the relationship between self and body. He is unable to employ the mind-body dualism of Rene Descartes who resolutely separated the body from thinking. In the creative experience of Hsu, he breaks the materiality of body. What do the body and the self look like that he has reestablished? This is a journey of exploration, and his journey starts now. His work is both complicated and direct. Unlike his early works, these pieces seem to have content that is more abstract. From the experience of the collateral existence of creation and life, we can see the insatiability of the artist. He shows us something that has not been fulfilled and is lacking in him. This enables him to have continuous productivity.

To a clay artist who had not touched clay until the age of 30, his life experience in his early years did not allow him to abandon and separate from his earlier work. However, the transition from the past to the later days has been fruitful. Before touching clay, Hsu's roles of athlete and music performer had left their mark. When Hsu encountered his physical limits during his career as an athlete, he needed to retreat from the stage. However, he did not let the curtain fall and he did not consider it the final point of his personally fulfilling life. Instead, his feelings for life made possible this physical extension of his vitality. From Hsu's exploration of his life, he found that those varied past experiences were merely like blueprints. Hsu started exploring the limitation of the objectives of life. This kind of existence and self-possession led him to uncertainties and true exploration.

Life no longer marched to any absolute destinations. It was open. The process of creation seemed like the course of life, with its results--the work--more soul-stirring and profoundly affecting. The artist's probing seemed to be an adventure. His trudging through life and his travelling over mountains and valleys became another concern in his creative process.

After Hsu began to work with clay, his work space, his materials and his mobility became paradoxes that he faced. From the stability of the past the artist started entering an unstable state. He had no substantial income. He could not predict the future of his work. In such a rhythm of life, Hsu intended to use the mystery of art and the grasp of instability to interpret the uncontrollable. Choosing clay as the material for his work could be called a coincidence. However, he perceived that it was similar to the material of life, having the same malleability with the same ideas but with different approaches and possessing the softness of uncertain states. It seemed that Hsu intended to extract something from the clay models.

His early work was more representational. From 1993 to 2000, his works with the titles of Dance, Drama and Seat were mostly shaped by clay rings or coils. In the very beginning, he used sketches or drawings to design his works. Later on, he no longer planned in advance.

Then the works reflected the inner feelings of the artist who was coping with the reality of society and investigated the variety of people living in society. For example, in the series of his works, Seat, completed in 2000, he integrated the images of man and chair by a sitting gesture, forming a simple sculpted seat. The tall and perfectly straight geometric lines explain our multiple positions and roles in society. After venting about social bondage in multiple layers, he started to look inward, seeking the emotion that was in his heart. His works turned to concern for being and self.

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