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Painter | Chiu Hsi-hsun

  • Publish Date:2015-08-13
Painter | Chiu Hsi-hsun

Did You Know That … ?

  • Chiu started out as an ambitious cartoonist who wanted to create comics that reflect the lives of regular people in Taiwan. An eight-page comic on a self-sacrificing mouse and another series on talking dogs, however, ran amok of censorship and he decided to give up drawing comics despite two decades of work in the field.

  • Pavers working with asphalt drew Chiu's attention when he went out for a stroll one day, and he collaborated with researcher Kuo Tsung-tien to find a way to transform the road-building material to an artistic medium. The key turned out to be hot glue, rather like how glue is used as an adhesive in eastern gouache.

  • The unbridled quality of asphalt, combined with its three-dimensional appearance, has led Chiu to create visages that are as light as the wing of a cicada and as heavy as rolling storm clouds.

Read more about the artist here or scroll down for pictures.

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One of the reoccurring themes in Chiu’s pieces is Bodhidharma (達摩), who is credited as the transmitter of Zen.

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Using the same subject to chart his progress, Chiu practices different techniques for depicting Bodhidharma, whether it's a sheet of asphalt for beard, or threads for eyebrows.

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Social or political satire is another lasting theme in Chiu’s works, be it a comic piece or large asphalt paintings. One of his popular paintings shows a group of frog-looking figures snatching at New Taiwan Dollar bills.

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Noting how for thousands of years paintings have been limited inside a frame, Chiu purposefully paints over the picture frame. For example, in one painting the frog-like figures latch onto the frame with their hands and feet.

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Asphalt can be layered so that up to ten layers could still be distinguished clearly, unlike Chinese ink, oil paints, or other materials of the same color and saturation.

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By removing the usual boundaries of visual art, Chiu maximizes the potential of asphalt as an art medium, especially its fluidity and its thickness.

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