Taiwanese artist Liu Hsin-Ying is confused, or perhaps her art is. But it doesn’t matter which way the wheel turns; she simply takes the bull by the horns and coaxes it to talk.
“My art conveys a sense of confusion to me. In acknowledging the confusion, I get to formulate questions or a preliminary understanding in order to approach it,” she says in a recent interview in Kuala Lumpur.
The workings of her mind does not unravel in a linear fashion, she shares, so it comes as no surprise that her works reflect this fragmented reality.
“To get a picture of my own thoughts, I have to piece things together, contain them somewhere, and try to make sense of them. Only through the process similar to bricolage can I get to know this part of myself. These fragments live with me, and I am driven to grasp them in a whole,” she elaborates.
Liu, currently based in Kuala Lumpur, held her first solo exhibition in Malaysia with Richard Koh Fine Art in 2016, with eight mixed media works that attempted to capture the fluidity and dynamism of thinking.
Please Give Me A Shape In One Piece was inspired by a variety of sources in the physical world, such as the sound of the wind and the vastness of the sea.
Now, she presents Somewhere Down The River, her second solo show with the Bangsar-based gallery.
Her works, comprising paintings, drawings and videos, in this exhibition are like puzzles to work out.
Liu, 27, finds inspiration in motherhood and a renewed appreciation for her body and being. The result is an approach that looks rather child-like in execution, but painted with the awareness of someone who has moved beyond that realm of innocence.
“The process of experiencing what it takes to raise a ‘new’ person has made me more aware of my body, but at the same time also fear it. I think about what it - or preferably she - can achieve, how it bears itself, how it communicates. In my abstract work, there are allusions to forms of primitive power, such as caves, forests, mountains, lakes, dwellings, paths, women and red triangles. These are the visions and movements I have deep inside me, that I place alongside my life experiences and desires, and attempt to contain within my pictures,” she says.
Liu was trained at the Art Students League in New York and Taipei University of the Arts in Taiwan.
Somewhere Down The River is a title that is as geographically vague as they come, a reference to an “indefinite section of the river”.
“Like the flow of time, the river goes on and on, and it is impossible to pinpoint its start or end. The only constant is its moving forward. I feel very much the same about life, where I find myself standing in the middle of its course,” she explains.
It is not always easy to put thoughts into words. But where words fail, imagery can help fill in the blanks.
Liu knows this well, and she hopes that visitors to the exhibition will find something that resonates with them.
“I hope my art speaks to them, especially about things that occupy a palpable place in our lives, but are very difficult to represent in words,” she concludes.
Somewhere Down The River is on at Richard Koh Fine Art, 229, Jalan Maarof, Bangsar in Kuala Lumpur till Dec 15. Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 7pm. More info: www.rkfineart.com.
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