Join us for the opening reception of Cathy Hsiao: Movement 1, Bloom, Sunday, February 18, 3-6pm, with sound performance “Drone for Bloom, Drone for Blue,” featuring Cathy Hsiao, Akosuen, and Rebecca Himelstein, from 5-6pm.
Exhibition on view February 18 – March 24, 2018
Goldfinch is pleased to present Movement 1, Bloom, the first solo exhibition of sculptural works by Chicago-based artist Cathy Hsiao.
In Movement 1, Bloom, Hsiao translates craft traditions of weaving and natural dyeing to the process of casting sculptures from concrete—a substance typically associated with the hard edges and surfaces of the built landscape. Using plant-based dyes like indigo, chamomile tea, and brazilwood, Hsiao brings organic compounds into a formal language influenced by the history of Western abstraction. However, the translation is not a precise one; it is deliberately skewed and the rigidity of minimalist forms playfully softened, as Hsiao embraces the humor and messiness of translation gone slightly awry.
Hsiao, who was born in New York, immigrated to Taiwan as a child, and returned to the United States as a teenager, embraces a hybrid practice that moves between material experimentation, interest in objecthood, and meditations on migration, memory, and (mis)translation in its many forms. As the artist navigates between cultures and languages, her sculptures are located in an elusive place where the past and present are woven together and apprehended simultaneously—much like the experience of listening to experimental music, in which temporal distortion, layers of sound, and unexpected structures prompt listeners to consider time not as linear, but as looped. Rather than root her practice in rituals of the past or in the immediacy of the present, Hsiao moves between them, revealing tradition as a means of holding the past and present together in time. As a result, Hsiao’s sculptural language feels both ancient and new, playfully refusing to keep still.
Within each seemingly minimal shape are layers of color which pool and mottle the concrete in hues of pink, green, and blue—reminiscent of the microcosmic worlds of lichen and algae or of the multicolored fragments and mineral layers found in sedimented rocks. For this series of sculptures, each concrete work begins with the process of drawing, as Hsiao creates simple renderings from photographs of her environment and previous works, which undergo computer numerical control (CNC) milling to become single-part molds. The fluidity of movement continues as Hsiao freely applies lines of concrete in different pours within the molds: a motion that engages the artist’s entire body, while her medium captures and condenses the energy of each human gesture. The outward surfaces of the sculptures are, in fact, the exposed underbellies of the casts, revealed only after temperature and time have allowed the concrete to cure, when the forms may be freed from their molds. As she layers and unearths her sculptures in succession, Hsiao demonstrates both the personal and slippery nature of time, her own process in a syncopated rhythm with time’s effects. In the gallery, the arrangement of Hsiao’s sculptures can be read as a spatial score, a composition that engages space and duration, unfolding like a piece of music.