Taiwanese collage artist Liu Shih-tung on 18th Street residency – profile

TAIWAN LOS ANGELES ARTIST RESIDENCIES COLLAGE CULTURAL EXCHANGE

Liu Shih-tung is a Taiwanese mixed media artist, born in 1970 in central Taiwan’s Miaoli County. He has been a practicing artist since 1985 when he entered the newly established senior high school art major classes and has been working primarily with collage since the early 2000s. From July to August this year, Liu undertook a residency at 18th Street Art Center in Los Angeles, California and we talk to him about this experience.

Says Clayton Campbell, Artistic Director of 18th Street and international artist residency expert, of the artist’s selection,

“Liu was selected on artistic merit and excellence, and his stated interest to be in Los Angeles. He came with his family, which we like when it’s possible. Otherwise he would not have been able to leave them and be here. We have a long term commitment to supporting artists from Taiwan.”

Liu Shih-tung's 2010 work on exhibition at Page Museum, Los Angeles. Image courtesy of the artist.

Liu Shih-tung's 2010 work on exhibition at Page Museum, Los Angeles. Image courtesy of the artist.

By the time Liu had graduated from college and completed his compulsory military service it was the early 1990s. Installation and performance art were popular mediums of expression in Taiwan at this time, perhaps because the country had recently broken from decades of authoritarian rule. In 1997 and 1998 Liu took part in two environmental art projects, River, sponsored by the Taipei Country government’s Cultural Affairs Bureau and Land Ethics, sponsored by the Fubon Art Foundation.

In 2001, during an artist residency at South Korea’s Younge-Un Museum of Contemporary Art, the artist created an indoor performance sequel to work done in Land Ethics, called Regeneration II. In the same year the Taipei Fine Arts Museum exhibited one of his installation pieces, Neon Light, Flash, Flash, Flash.

Liu Shih-tung has been moving away from installation and performance art since the early 2000s, and is now inspired by folk tradition, namely collage creation. He uses images cut from printed materials, a major source of which is fashion magazines, and recombines selected images with paint on flat canvas. Says Liu,

“In my earlier [installation and performance] works, my collage approach and development can clearly be identified. I have always used a collage approach; I re-arrange [my subjects] with humor. Subjective cutting, deformation and the traces from a paint brush: I combine all these elements into a perceptual space and create contemporary collage which goes beyond the traditional. This is what I have been pursuing.”

In ‘Cutting Out a New Reality‘, a Taiwan Review article from 2009, Pat Gao writes that the artist “first and foremost seeks a free form of expression, one that has a humorous aspect and offers an alternative to the ingrained, monotonous way of thinking about daily life.” The writer continues by stating that “Liu was one of the first major artists in the wave of ‘playful art’ that emerged in Taiwan at the beginning of the new century. …his previous performance and installation works, despite their different forms, all reflect the same ideal of combining playful action and the creation of art.”

We asked Liu if he will continue to work with collage. “Of course I will,” he said. “Collage has always been a part of me.”

Liu Shih-tung has undertaken artist residencies in New York, Korea and Los Angeles. Since the early 1990s, he has held solo and been involved in group exhibitions throughout Taiwan and his works have been collected by the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts.

New work created by Liu Shih-tung during his 2010 18th Street Art Center residency. Image courtesy of the artist.

New work created by Liu Shih-tung during his 2010 18th Street Art Center residency. Image courtesy of the artist.

How did 18th Street Art Centre support you during your residency with them?

They provided me with a great studio and organised an open studio event twice, one on 10 July and another on 7 August this year. Many artists and members of the public came during the open studio. By having these people view my creations and works, this achieved the purpose of a cultural exchange.

Why do you think you were selected for the 18th Street artist residency?

18th Street was my first choice because I wanted to understand more about modern art development on the West Coast of the US.

How has the 18th Street artist residency helped your art?

During this residency I mainly wanted to work on 2D creation, making collage using materials from LA (Los Angeles). 18th Street provides us with a lot of magazines and books, as well as information on how to purchase art materials.

What was the most important thing you will take from the residency? Why?

I think when you’re in a foreign land you discover cultural differences in easier and more leisurely ways. My greatest gains have been the experiences I have taken from LA life and culture: visiting all the art galleries and museums and discussing art with other artists at 18th Street. Their points of view assisted me in discovering the spirit which American culture is pursuing and the development of its art environment.

Who were you most excited to meet or interact with during your residency? How did they help or inspire you in your art or your life?

The people who I enjoyed meeting and interacting with the most during this residency were artists, critics, curators and art gallery dealers. However, I can’t deny that it’s not easy to gain practical benefits within such a short period of time.

How is the art community in the US different from Taiwan’s art community?

I think they are about the same. It’s just that those within the US art community can integrate their art into their daily life better.

Is this your first international residency outside Asia? Can you briefly tell me about any others, if any?

This is my third residency experience. The first one I undertook was in 1998; I recieved a New York art scholarship from the Asian Cultural Council. My second residency was at Younge-Un Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea in 2001. I believe that 18th Street, by bringing foreign resident artists to the US to participate in related art activities, achieves its purpose of cultural exchange.

New work created by Liu Shih-tung during his 2010 18th Street Art Center residency. Image courtesy of the artist.

New work created by Liu Shih-tung during his 2010 18th Street Art Center residency. Image courtesy of the artist.

KN

Related Topics: Taiwanese artists, artist residencies, collage

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