Layered Complexity of Lights and Shadows - Paintings of Chi Chia-Hwa

Wang Pin-Hwa

At first glance, viewers may mistake these pastel-colored paintings as following a particular style that relied heavily on colors of the latest urban fashion. But upon closer examination, one will find that between layers of colors, there are traces of lightly painted marks or arcs. These works are in the series entitled "Rebirth" that was first displayed in Chi Chia-Hwa's solo exhibition at the Stock 20 Gallery in April, 2002.

"Rebirth" marks a departure from his early 1995-2001 works, which are paintings based on repetitions of small geometric lines. What was once a new beginning for him has now become the basis of his latest works that is shown at his 2003 solo exhibition at IT Park Gallery. In "Rebirth", each work is covered with a single color. Again, without closely examining these paintings, viewers would not notice the subtle changes in colors and the various interplays of multi-layered of lights and darks. However, one might finally realize that these paintings were executed under natural lighting in the artist's studio, and it is nearly impossible to detect all the subtleties and nuances occurring in them when viewing under the gallery's artificial lighting.

While the visual experience of seeing layered complexity of lights and shadows is one of the most important themes in this exhibit, other new developments can also be seen such as various brushstrokes with highlights or diffused lights used within a single color field and the suggestion of water flowing in "Moonlight / Wings". These works display a rather soft and exquisite style. The atmosphere thus created is reminiscent of the sighting of the aurora borealis. In other works, we see a new interpretation of spaces formed by seemingly infinite number of arcs, as first seen in "Rebirth". They can be viewed as a continuum of the earlier paintings that were based on simple geometric lines. It is apparent that the spaces constructed with curving lines are more dynamic and obscured. The recurring circular brush marks fabricate a unique space that not only expands outward to its surroundings but also penetrates inward in depth. This space, using circular shapes as its basic elements, can best be described as existing between geometry and nature. There are some that are painted with colorful dots and marks in various shades, which recalls familiar sceneries: the luminous sky, the vast earth and the multi-layered space. The experience of such landscape, executed with carefree brushstrokes, is further enriched by the hints of lights and shadows.

Using two-dimensional forms to express the intrinsic value of lights and shadows create an interesting dialogue. With painterly marks, sensational colors and flat surfaces, Chi Chia-Hwa authors a visual language that can only be obtained through an understanding of rational architectural forms and moving images (videos). With unique colors and multi-layers of space, he creates a playful environment, one that is permeated with misty colors at a well-kept distance from the viewers. This place is neither too aggressive nor inaccessible but rather, it offers delicate hints of welcoming sensibilities.

The sense of velocity in such a surreal world - one that is in slow-motion - exists in the mind's eye of Chi Chia-Hwa. Yet, his perception of decelerated time does not conflict with his quick expressionistic markings. After all, beyond the coolness and complexity of his modernistic style, Chi's paintings radiate an underlying richness of layers and sense of serenity that transcend time.



光影錯約 - Paintings 紀嘉華個展

文 / 王品驊