Brook Hsu folds time, death, love, and desire into the malachite surfaces and tufts of her paintings. Fictions contends with the matter of stories, as they are told and immortalized, ever-shifting and coalescing, calling to question their material existence. As Hsu herself states in an accompanying poem, “Everything is a story; every story is a fiction.”

Fictions presents a larger body of portraits by Brook Hsu for the first time. The four portraits in the exhibition portray images of characters from various films by Takeshi Kitano, Hou Hsiao-hsien, and Tsai Ming-liang. For Hsu, these filmic subjects provide a way to form the formless. Realism eschewed, faces are soaked in a dense green wash. The portraits are expressly not of the actors, but instead their bodies serve as vessels for capturing a persona by delineating certain gestures and peculiarities. While these consensual subjects lend themselves to be open and porous, already embodying something they are not, they are inevitably bound to their body, their face.

Shellac, made from the resinous secretions of lac beetles, is often used as a varnish for its transparent and protective properties. Hsu uses shellac ink with a liquid approach, letting it pool and soak. Lines form with frail edges as the color bleeds and travels over and bonds with the ground, extending the tenuous figure-ground relation into coiling marks that waver between legibility and obscurity. Her distinctive technique deploys different shapes and means of painted lines – spiral, zigzag or serpentine – rethinking line as an archaic and inherent aesthetic force. Through these calligraphic gestures, Hsu builds and complicates writing, materializing verses that live beyond their textuality.

Two large shag carpets inhabit the wall and floor of the gallery space, with soft impressions of lived-on indentations still visible. Hsu walks across the inked carpets in her studio–her physical way of working with these fibrous textiles comes through in her mode of dripping and staining the pigment into the fluffy pile.

Date: September 16 — November 12021