Categories: THE BUZZ

THE BUZZ: Tishan Hsu: Liquid Circuits

Hammer Museum,  Los Angeles
On view through April 19th, 2020

Article by Cathy Breslaw
February 4, 2020

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Tishan Hsu, Autopsy, 1988. Ceramic tile, compound, chrome. 55 x 49 x 94 inches
(140 x 124 x 239 cm). Collection of Karin and Peter Haas, Zurich.

Tishan Hsu’s art practice was built around the question of how technology affects us as human beings. As technology evolves so too would be our relationship to it.  In the 1980’s when most of the works in this exhibition were created, Tsu used the traditional media of painting and sculpture rather than more direct referential objects like TVs to convey his ideas. The 1980’s were the beginning of the transition from analog to digital, a paradigm shift that would manifest itself in many ways, and Hsu created works that connected with this change and with our continual morphing identities. 

Hsu used sheets of plywood with rounded corners along with compounds and paint to create his sculptural paintings. The minimal abstract images with scratched surfaces refer to screens or iPhone shaped objects with a ‘skin’ stretched over emerging shapes emanating from the surface and the edges of the wood and these sculptural paintings appear to float off the wall. A room of small preliminary drawings portray some of the ideas expressed in his sculptures. Also, in this exhibition, are a few silkscreens with ink and acrylic on canvas works that make more direct reference to the human body as in Cellular Automata 2 (1989) – a grid-like pattern upon which body orifices, tongue and eye are portrayed.

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Tishan Hsu, Vertical Ooze, 1987. Ceramic tile, urethane, compound, acrylic, oil on wood.
49.5 x 48 x 61.5 inches (126 x 122 x 156 cm). Centre Pompidou, Paris.

Tsu’s background in architecture and work as a word processor come to bear in his work which uses the shape and size of computer screens or TV monitors, a powerful medium of how we experience the world. His sculptures like Autopsy (1988) and Vertical Ooze (1987) use a landscape of ceramic tiles and painted wood to create multi-layered modular units that may refer to a utilitarian use and to the building blocks of technology in general.

Hsu recognizes the technological, synthetic and artificial while simultaneously bringing the human body central to the work. His distinct visual language brings awareness of how we become embodied in our experience of the ever-evolving technological world and is an intriguing documentation of how it has developed since the 1980s.

The exhibition is organized by Sculpture Center, New York and curated by Sohrab Mohebbi, Curator.

The Hammer exhibition is organized by Aram Moshayedi, Robert Soros Curator, with Nicholas Barlow, Curatorial Assistant. The exhibition is on view through April 19th, 2020. For more information visit https://hammer.ucla.edu/exhibitions/2020/tishan-hsu-liquid-circuit

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