Chihhung Liu: Earthworms

Chihhung Liu:

2022.7.1 - 8.3

Opening reception:
7.1 (fri.) 17:00 - 19:00
*artist in attendance

© Chihhung Liu
Press Release

Exhibition Outline
Venue: nca | nichido contemporary art
Date: 7.1 (fri.) – 8.3 (wed.), 2022
Gallery hours: tue. – sat. / 11:00 – 19:00 (closed on sun., mon., and on national holidays)

nca | nichido contemporary art is pleased to present the exhibition “Earthworms”, solo show by Taiwanese artist Chihhung Liu. Drawing inspiration from a variety of sources - literary fiction, poetry, and philosophy to name a few - Liu has developed a unique, expressive language where the scenery and events the artist experiences during his journeys intertwine with the randomness of everyday life. It is an attempt to frame, on different levels, aspects that could hardly be put into words - sounds, time, emotions – and give them visibility moving beyond the sole representation of the natural landscape or the observation of the world. Liu’s artistic practice spans a variety of media ranging from painting to installation, video, calligraphy, and sculpture, depending on the nature of the project or the concept behind the artworks. The last couple of years characterized by the restriction of individual mobility represented a watershed moment for Liu whose practice heavily consisted of on-site field-research and frequent journeys inside and outside Taiwan, as he faced the new challenge of incorporating the use of low-tech – AR, VR, Google Cardboard, smartphone’s camera – into his practice.
They have no eyes or legs, yet earthworms can avoid danger relying on the sensory organs that cover their entire body allowing them to detect sounds and light. Catching a glimpse of the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, looking at everyday scenes freed from a long-endured sense of entrapment, Liu can now discern all the little aspects and details he was unable to see before, becoming aware of the many things he failed to notice. Liu’s new body of work simultaneously detects multiple realities through an enhanced vision, its senses sharpened just like an “earthworm”, trying to reach a deeper understanding of today’s world and surrounding environment by piecing together a variety of imagery. The exhibition features a selection of 25 paintings, new and recent.

An Intricate Labyrinth of Earthworms From the Wetlands:
On Chihhung Liu’s Contemporary Landscape Painting and the Critical Zone
by Sid Chen/ Art Critic

“ … painting was not just a stage on which the drama of a painter’s life could be played out; the painting’s own life was just as important. … if the very process by which a painter engages with various materials can truly be what 1Pollock called a “give-and-take”, then the life of things and the artist’s own can intertwine …”
From Barry Schwabsky, Landscape Painting Now (2019)

Chihhung Liu’s work puts on display the artist’s own life. Usually steering away from a detailed representation of things, Liu scoops up images through an artistic practice where open emotions and revealing lines are left in charge, and allows them to be embraced by those peaceful moments life is made of in the form of the atmosphere and the afterglow that radiate from the lightly applied paint. The series of oil paintings presented on occasion of his solo show, “Earthworms”, doesn’t simply follow the path of the acrylic works of his first years where shiny brightness and wet-finishing prevailed.
Liu is giving life to a unique, artistic approach that brings out with ease the full potential of the drawing and composition technique he mastered for his previous black-and-white paintings, together with his ability to control shading, this time in a world of colors. And Liu’s very own experiences lie there condensed in a dimension where the maze of powerful, fine and think lines finds its match in the hues purposely tamed by the artist.
Vivid representations of the leaf veins’ linear extension, of their very shape and outlines, the color upstaging the composition as if pushing to expand outward - Liu’s work can be rightfully defined as landscape painting that strongly puts the artist’s contemporaneity on display, skillfully mediating on the canvas between the things that exist and the things we see one layer of paint after another. Furthermore, following Liu’s perspective, his new body of work can be divided into representations of trees and representations of landscapes created during the pandemic. Needless to say, landscape painting conceived as representative of its times stretches far beyond the mere depictions of reality as we see it. As one of the most abstract genres, well before Abstract painting itself, from 16th century’s landscape painting, 20th century’s modernism to post-war art, contemporary landscape painting has been reflecting the critical zone that lies in the invisible and the barely perceptible we call Anthropocene. When Liu presented his work in the group show held at Taipei Fine Arts Museum (2019), he breathed life into a process where disconnected bits from his life were sketched, recorded, re-elaborated and re-created as paintings.
And that is the paradoxical relation between humans and nature: the more intimate we become with the surrounding environment, the more fragmented that relationship becomes. The tropical plants that sometimes inhabit Liu’s paintings, a symbolical reference to the South of the country, play their role as accessories of the composition (staffage). Through his lines and brushstrokes, Liu brings to the fore aspects that a naked eye would miss, atmospheric elements, humidity, temperature, including the very sensitive experience hidden behind the painting’s atmosphere. Within the context of contemporary art at the time of Anthropocene, freed from the characteristic properties of the medium, todays’ Liu is a nomad living in the time of the pandemic attempting a return to the art of painting as his way of life. Nature has long been reduced to faithfully represent what the eye sees, seldom addressing the environment traceable in the landscape as a stand-alone subject, however, now in Liu’s practice, whether through painting, on-site installation, or soundscape-research, there is a return to that “give-and-take” equation.
It may be this very bond to enable a new, mutual understanding that is based on a more equal relation.

Translation by: Ikeda Lili

1: Jackson Pollock (1912-1956), Possibilities (Winter, 1947-1948)
Chihhung Liu
b. 1985, Hsinchu, Taiwan; lives and works in Taipei.
M.F.A. Program, Department of Fine Arts, Taipei National University of the Art.
Recent main solo shows: "SAND LAND", NHCUE Art Space (National Tsing Hua University), Hsinchu, Taiwan (2020) / "SILENT & STILL" TKG+Projects, Taiwan (2020) / “MONOCHROME”, Zou-no hana Terrace, Yokohama (2019) / “THE HIDING SONG”, apartment der kunst Munich, Germany (2018) / “PALUDES”, nichido contemporary art, Tokyo (2O18) / “NOVEMBER,Hsin-An”‧HOWL Space‧T, Tainan(2016)/ “L’OISEAU BLEU”, Galleria.H, Taiwan(2016)/ “SUMMER FLOWERS”‧Taipei Artist Village, Taipei(2016) / ”SHORT FICTION”, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei(2014)
Recent main group shows: "Interpreters’Screening II-The Mysterious Island”‧Hong Gah Museum, Taipei (2021) / "An Uncharted World”, MoCA Taipei, Taipei (2021) / "2O21 YuGuan Island Art Festival”, Tainan (2021) / "YOU ARE ME”, Hsinchu City Museum‧Hsinchu, Taiwan (2020) / "Displacement of True or False”, Taipei Artist Village, Taipei (2020) / "Island Tales: Taiwan and Perth”, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei (2019)
"Painting From Taiwan”, Eli Klein Gallery, New York (2019) / "Daisuke Miyatsu collection x Kasama Nichido Museum of Art - Synchronicity
- Blending the quintessence od modern and contemporary art”, Kasama Nichido Museum of Art, Ibaraki (2019) / “Metahistory”‧TKG+ Projects, Taipei (2018) / “LADY DIOR AS SEEN BY”‧Art Basel Hong Kong-Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Hong Kong (2018) /
“Harper's Bazaar 15O Years: the Greatest Moments” Taipei 1O1 Mall, Taipei(2017)/ “Very Period”‧VT Art Salon, Taipei(2017)/ “LADY DIOR AS SEEN BY”‧Christian Dior Foundation, Taipei(2017)/ “A Journey Far From Home”‧galerie nichido, Taipei(2017)/ “An Ode to Thirty”
Residency programs: EKWC - international artist-in-residence and centre-of-excellence for ceramics, Netherlands (2021) / ARTSPACE, Sydney(2016)/ Changwon Art Hall, Pusan(2016)/ Pier-2 Art Center, Kaohsiung(2016)/ Akiyoshidai International Art Village(2015)/ Seoul Art Space _ Geumcheon, Seoul(2014)/ Haslla Art Center, Seoul(2013)

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