藝術評論 Critical Essays
Alchemy of Memory: Works of Huang Chih-Cheng
By Chen Hsiang-Wen（Curator）
Fine and detailed pictures on gold foil sometimes will be imaginary scenes, sometimes will be animals, sometimes will be anatomical maps of creatures. These pictures without large scale, accumulate careful care toward texture and graphics from artists.
Walking into the working space where Huang Chih-Cheng tidies up in the roof of his house, not only can you see his piled up old works, there are also samples which he tested on various metal foils and paints. There are experimental new works which he just bought back from his residence in Bywood Art Space, Kaohsiung on his desk. They are dried leaves in various sizes or Camphor Wood leaves with gold foil sticked on. On the wall close to his desk are leaves sent from friends in different places because of the calling on Facebook from artists.
Huang’s logo belongs to the series which draws on gold foil. Graduating from Tunghai Fine Art Graduation School has granular skills of Fine-Brushwork Painting. Starting from Illusion series, brand new scenes are presented to us from his ideas of assembling from various kinds of texts.These characters he usually put on stage which are like human beings and animals or anatomical maps with meaning of illustrated handbooks inspire artists to create unique styles or appearances for them and give them clues for explanation because of their images and habits in social cognition. For example, sutures on anatomical maps can directly be associated to medical suture, etc. These characters will have the relationship with audience with dialogues. The basis of these dialogues are the perceptions toward daily life of arts. Computer graphics let gold foil which is as thin as cicada’s wings be fixed on backing paper, be sent into a printing press. After output, handdrawing will be processed to complete the whole picture. On computer screen, Huang assembles different elements, like a director who watches actors on stage or in theatre through monitors, and then teach them. On the other hand, after the pictures of actors’ performances are printed out, this director also leaves his comfortable couch. In the shortest distance, he observes their clothing, details of background, and then picks up fine brushes and dips into ink, and carves with all his attention.
During Huang’s creating process, no matter on the aspect of methods or materials, risky ways are chosen, astonishing and dangerous one. First, fold foil on the surface is light and thin, you need to use gentle hand gestures to adjoin it on paper. After it is fixed, you need to face the challenges from printing press. During the process of moving of nozzles or conveyor of paper, the surface of gold foil may also be destroyed. Leaves series lately is to stick gold foil on the back of dried leaves, and then cover it with resin. However, sometimes, transparent resin on not fully dried leaves will have bubbles because of evaporation of water. Or natural curl of leaves before fixing can also cause damage on the surface of gold foil, etc.
When we are curious about why this artist doesn’t choose safer ways, for example, make output process be done after the complete picture is finished in computer, or use more stable support to draw. We may get hint which is about answers from his recent works which relates to his family pictures.Several pictures chosen by artists which are about his childhood and his parents when they were young are transfer printed on different materials like silver leaf and are combined with several methods from the past like picture collage, hand painting, and suture,etc. Among Huang’s context of creation, though his past works reflects what he sees and knows in daily life, they are all be spoken through marks. Talking about works about family, we can reflect back to 2010, his work “The Flower Sutras” was made because his families passed away. It presented the graphics of sutra, flowers, and butterflies. Family pictures this time convey sweet memories, like pictures about parents went on a trip, artist and his baby brother were still babies, etc. They both combined with organs, blood vessels, cover of flowers and plants to emphasize the tightness between family bond; They both choose metals with minimum activity like gold or silver as media to symbolize his desire to protect this piece of memory forever. It shows the same meaning when he covers withered and yellow leaves with gold foil. Some of the past time which symbolizes death contrasts against vibrancy with life and delaying on aging process because of gold and silver. Dialectic about life and death in the works of Huang Chih-Cheng is like eternal samsara of quality and energy in the universe which is discussed in alchemy.
Pray 2，paper、ink、gold foil，21 x 29 cm，2015