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'Transcendental Visions: Ko Si-Chi's Art Works' on display in NYC

  • Date:2023-09-22~2023-10-13
'Transcendental Visions: Ko Si-Chi's Art Works' on display in NYC

With support from the Taipei Cultural Center, KO Studio is proud to present "Transcendental Visions: Ko Si-Chi's Art Works," a retrospective exhibition of curated photographs by the late Ko Si-chi (柯錫杰, 1929-2020), one of Taiwan’s foremost photographers. The retrospective, which consists of 24 notable works by Ko and seeks to commemorate his enormous contributions to modern photography, will open on September 22 and continue through October 13 at Gallery 456 in New York City.

Ko Si-chi, renowned as "Taiwan's pioneer in modern photography," passed away on June 5, 2020, at the age of 90. Ko is known for his unique “visionary landscapes” (心象風景) that offer an ethereal image of nature, in addition to his ability to compose photographs in unremarkable or inconspicuous areas, often with a strong contrast of light or color. 

Ko took his first big steps as a photographer in Kaohsiung. He studied at a vocational school in the city and found his first job there after graduation at Taiwan Alkaline Co. (臺灣鹼業公司,現已併入中石化公司). At the age of 19, he received his first camera as a gift from a Japanese colleague and developed an interest in photography as a hobby, subsequently leaving for Tokyo Photo School to study photography for two years. Upon his return, he presented his first solo exhibition in 1962, which turned out to be a great success.

Ko moved to the U.S. in 1967 and settled in New York City. During the 1970s, Ko rose to prominence as a commercial photographer in New York, with commissions rolling in from famous fashion magazines like Harper’s Bazaar, House Beautiful, and Essence, as well as numerous modeling agencies. He continued to broaden his artistic horizons by working with notable figures such as Alvin Ailey, founder of the prestigious Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Norman Mailer, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction and non-fiction; and William Silano, one of the top fashion photographers in the United States and Bazaar's principal photographer at that time.

In 1979, Ko closed his New York studio and embarked on an eight-month solo journey to southern Europe and northern Africa, where he produced a great number of outstanding landscape photographs that further strengthened his artistic reputation around the globe. Ko received the 2006 National Award for Arts (國家文藝獎) in photography, the highest such honor in Taiwan. To commemorate Ko’s profound influence on the development of photography in Taiwan, the Tainan Art Museum curated the first-ever large-scale retrospective held for Ko Si-chi in his hometown of Tainan in 2022, followed by this exhibition in New York. Ko's widow, Jessie Fan (樊潔兮), a top Dunhuang-style dancer and choreographer, will attend the opening reception of the New York retrospective on September 21. 

This retrospective exhibition is co-presented by Gallery 456, a visual arts exhibition space in SoHo. The non-profit gallery has presented works by more than 250 renowned and emerging Asian artists from around the world.