Collection: HUI CHI LEE

My recent artistic work, which has gone through two distinct phases, has focused on exploring tensions and dynamics in human relations – both between individuals and between individuals and society.  In the first series, titled “Moving Corpses and Walking Flesh,” I used the form and symbolism of mannequins to reveal what I see as an overemphasis on materialistic pursuits by many of my fellow Taiwanese.  Regardless of differences between nations and social structures, the disproportionate emphasis on consumerism and a lack of consideration given to spiritual dimensions have placed a heavy burden on contemporary life.  Humans seem trapped in a never-ending spiral of materialistic desires and endless wants, and our craving to consume now turns on the subject to consume the spirit.   My mother was a fashion designer and growing up in such an environment in a rapidly changing Taiwan made me sensitive to the mute qualities of mannequins.  In the first series and continuing into the second series of drawings, I continue to use the inanimate and plastic quality of mannequins as a symbolic vehicle to raise issues about the conformity of consumer behaviors and the immobility these behaviors imposes on contemporary society.


The second series is titled “Lián; Liàn,” which are two Chinese homophones meaning “to connect ” and “to enchain.”  This series of large-scale drawings explores the tensions and dynamics between how people are connected and how these connections themselves may also serve to enchain.  In part, this series is a reflection on Taiwanese cultural traditions that can seem oppressive in contemporary society.  I use the human figure as an agent to prompt discourse on these conditions.  I am interested in the obscure and anonymous quality of the human form, and I want to guide the viewer to consider the subject matter in a critical, holistic manner.  I use color in the subject matter in a symbolic, metaphorical way.  Red symbolizes both a warning and an awakening moment in life, and hair signifies the duration of a life span and time of which we are often hardly aware – an acknowledgement of the finitude of life but yet a vision of it as somehow endless.

These elements are most evident in my recent works.  For example, randomly amassed mannequins appear powerless, much like vulnerable and immobile contemporary human beings, and as in Chinese tradition, lengthy hair symbolizes longevity.  People are keen on the idea of perpetuation; however, ambivalence inevitably comes about when they are faced or entangled in a chaotic environment that threatens a comfortable status.  Pairs of chopsticks act as unknown teasers – could the ambiguous, unknown teasers be lifting, pulling and twisting unbounded hair to snarl or free the mannequins?  What factors are driving these entanglements?  It depends on the viewer’s perceptions.  My work serves as a visual riddle to inviting the viewer to decipher.  In each piece, those elements are implements to convey the imperceptible influence that inherited tradition has on one’s mentality, which in turn forms the core of beliefs that are difficult to break.

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