Frolic: Humor and Mischief in New Taiwanese Art

frolic_1.jpgThe atmosphere on opening night at 2 X 13 was festive and tantalizing. The exhibition offers a sampling of works that put forth a diverse overview of the concept of humor. Nothing is too overt, and most works suggest some sort of social or emotional mores, but less specific than I expected. Curators Thalia Vrachopoulos (based in New York) and Jane Ingram Allen (based in Taiwan) managed to project, via their chosen artists and works, an eastern feel with western bent, making it all seem comfortably different.

Fay Ku's large gouache on paper works reminded me very much of Amy Cutler's works, but the narrative in Ku's art is a bit more problem-oriented. In one work, a woman spies her heavily overgrown pubis while in another, half tree, half nubile women attempt to swallow blowfish whole, which leads to punctured cheeks and problematic situations.

Above all, is the craft, the skill of the artist to turn just the right amount of line and color into a powerful and memorable message.

frolic_2.jpgPainter Yu-an Liao delights us with her version of Miss Piggy-type portraits (background of top picture) that look about to explode with color and emotion. Nearby, Lanya Huang's psychedelic sculptures (left) resemble enlarged, radioactive organisms.

Tang-wei Hsu has a sort of West Coast esthetic going on with paintings that made me think of Dalek. But here, the half machine, half organic organism leans more to an overall environment.

Meng chuan Ho show us the "Perfect Marriage" in a color portrait of a new groom with his sexy harem. Perhaps a comment on unequal rights, but done in a light-hearted way.

In one hanging sculpture, Ya-chu Kang applies text to various, newly sewn plain white stuffed toys, a work that is nicely paired with Shih-chun Cheng's video "Wishing to Share with You the Empty Happiness." In it, we see a pair of high wire performers working their way to an enticing flower which, it ends up when seen off-screen left, is the appended lure of a ferocious monster.

Just to the right, and on the floor of the gallery, sit a number of retro-fitted Teletubbies (foreground of top picture) by Howard Chen that sport countless point-out thumb tacks, recalling the absurdness of Meret Oppenheim's fur-covered tea cup or Man Ray's thumb-tack studded iron.

Another sculptor, Pei-ying Huang chooses the perfect material, corrugated cardboard, to create a series of cactus plants while Charwei Tsai tattoo-laden squids and frog suggest a culture with extreme tastes.

Last but not least, Ai-hua Hsia offers a number of objects that look to be utilitarian ceramics from an alien life planet. Perhaps these are imagined ancient relics from Mars. - D. Dominick Lombardi

The first of three exhibitions collectively titled Frolic: Humor and Mischief in New Taiwanese Art opened at 2 X 13 Gallery in Chelsea (531 West 26 St. 4th floor) on October 5.

The second part of Frolic will open on October 18 at Tenri Cultural Institute Gallery (43A West 13th St.), with the third opening at Taipei Gallery (Taipei Cultural Center at 1 East 42 St.) on November 6.

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D. Dominick Lombardi is an artist with representation in Kasia Kay Art Projects and in Chicago, Van Brunt Gallery in Beacon, NY, and ADA gallery in Richmond, VA; a writer with Sculpture, Sculpture Review, DART, and NYARTS; and an independent curator.

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