In Between the Dormant and Subliminal at White Box is Taiwanese artist Aihua Hsia's first solo exhibition in New York. Hsia learned the art of traditional Buddhist sculpture while studying for her Master's at the Okinawa Prefecture University of Arts. She patiently uses the "ancient lacquer technique 'Datsukanshitu'" in her paintings, sculptures, and installations. Each of Hsia's whimsical figures of "nature deities and spirits," conceived from "her explorations of the subconscious" (from show's press release), receive multiple layers of organic lacquer paint (sometimes over thirty layers!). Climate conditions, ie: temperature and/or humidity, determine the proper drying of painted layers before another can be added, leaving the artist's progress at the mercy of the weather. As the show's press release states, "This long meditative process signals a true collaboration between the artist and the particular elements of her surrounding natural environment."
Hsia began working on these pieces in Northern California in the fall of 2009. The Californian climate proved "ideally conducive to her sculpture making process." In the winter, Hsia moved her project east to New York City where the cold and damp challenged her creative process. The character and personalities of her resulting works were influenced by the environments and conditions in which they were made—the Californian figures "capture a lightness of form and material" while the New York pieces "are relatively darker and weighted in appearance," (hmmm, sounds similar to the residents of the geographic locations, no?). Hsia's cast of mystical woodland creatures "have a direct and primal connection to Nature" emphasized all the more by how nature directly affected their creation.
Hsia's lengthy and complex process reveals her zen-like patience and adaptabilty in studying dreams and the subconscious, and creating "an immersive realm at the edge of the subliminal." Learn more at whiteboxny.org and at the artist's webite Aihua-hsia.com. Through December 4th.
(Sorry, I couldn't find a checklist at the gallery or online, so I don't have titles for Hsia's works...)