Exploration and Innovative Self-expression Yung-Hsu Hsu's Theater of Clay / 自我極限的探索超越──徐永旭的「黏土劇場」
Exploration and Innovative Self-expression Yung-Hsu Hsu's Theater of Clay
◎Text by Fang-Ju Lin ◎Photos by Chung-Hui Pao and Jessica Lin
It is a rare experience. Walking into galleries on the fourth floor of the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts where the "Theater of Clay" is currently on exhibit, one will see gigantic two-meter high irregularly-shaped clay loops towering across the entire exhibition areas. These clay towers create a bewildering atmosphere for the viewers at first sight. When they walk closer by, these art pieces resemble kelp and look so light and delicate which conflicts with the usual clay work. These clay loops are so thin that the viewers are stunned by the dynamics and complexity of the work, but at the same time fear to damage the work by walking or even breathing too heavily next to them. Some viewers have even said this incredibly touching feeling gave them goose bumps.
"Theater of Clay" is the 2008 Exhibition featuring Yung-Hsu Hsu's work. There are two exhibition areas; one full of towering clay loops, and the other has a bridge composed of two large monitors and mirrors. These two exhibits use different materials, but the concept behind them is identical - Self-Observation and Communication.
The twenty exhibited clay loops are among the forty pieces that Yung-Hsu Hsu's created. Hsu mentioned that the biggest significance of this creation lies in the creation process. Over two and a half years, he spent thirteen to fourteen hours a day molding clay around tables into tall loops. The wall of the loops had to be as thin as possible, but also able to make the loops rise on their own and successfully fired and transferred. The process was full of anxiety, insecurity, exhaustion, and uncertainty. Unlike other people, Hsu does not stick with the elements that make a work successful. Instead, he neglects the factors that have benefited previous work and keeps himself in tension when working on a new piece. Through the tension and long-lasting work, he observes any potential impacts that may arise, and further understands and communicates with himself internally in order to achieve self-excess.
Every piece of work is an art creation from scratch. Artists use their fingers to shape the piece over and over again until the action becomes routine. To avoid being affected by the "inertia", Hsu used many different parts of his body to shape the clay, including the back of his hands, his arms, and even his cheeks. Seeing the surface of the clay, you will feel Hsu's efforts and strengths infused into the clay, which is extraordinarily moving.
Born in Kaohsiung City, Yung-Hsu Hsu's is an artist who engages himself in making large clay art works regularly. In recent years, he has worked in Taiwan, New York, Japan, South Korea, and Beijing. He taught in elementary schools for 22 years before being admitted to the Graduate Institute of Applied Arts at Tainan National University of the Arts. When he was young, Hsu was a sprinter and won many awards. He also played the zither and performed in several concerts. Due to illness, he had to stop playing the zither. That was when he began to devote himself to ceramics. Yung-Hsu Hsu's revealed that the entire "Theater of Clay" blueprint has not been fully carried out yet. As the next step, he will destroy the majority of the clay loops created, record the whole process and begin the next creation phase. Perhaps Hsu's creation is just like his life journey - full of continuous exploration and innovative self-expression. Let us look forward to his next art work!