I-Hsuen Chen: I am Leaving this City

When 11 Jul 2013 - 3 Aug 2013
Where hpgrp Gallery New York
529 W 20th Street, 2W
New York, NY 10011
United States

I-Hsuen Chen. Courtesy of the artist.

July 11 – August 3, 2013
Opening Reception: Thursday, July 11, 6-8pm

Press Release:

hpgrp Gallery New York presents I-­Hsuen Chen’s first major exhibition, I am Leaving this City in our project space. Working with curator Takayuki Fujii, it takes the form of a rich sampling of several bodies of recent photographic work, manifesting Chen’s experience of omnipresent middleness between time and place.

“Chen, under the spell of the classic road-­trip photographers Robert Frank, Stephen Shore, and Joel Sternfeld, idylls through Taiwan, but instead of finding the drama of Frank’s diverse demographics, or the wonder of Sternfeld’s American anecdotes, he discovers a society in a state of suspension. Time seems to have stopped for this island culture, and Chen focuses on the inadvertent poise of routine and the everyday.”

-­– Allen Frame, Notes on PAUSE, an exhibition at Foley Gallery (2013).

In his first major body of work, Nowhere in Taiwan, Chen hit the road like in a road movie, and documented the isolated state of mind in his own homeland. Most of the images, taken in the undefined areas between the urban and the rural, “nowhere” as he call them, are a series of symbols and traces of human and their activities, which also revived the “collective memory” in him as a Taiwanese. At the same time, Chen was also able to see a mirrored image of himself from the perspective of “the other.” This series was recently featured by Photograph Magazine in its May/June 2013 issue with text written by curator Elisabeth Biondi.

“Geographically he takes us on a road trip to Taiwan, but these are not traditional travel photographs ― far from it. The pictures seem casual, randomly taken, and almost incidental, yet emotionally these images are precise, as precise as a state of emotional ambivalence can be. They accurately reflect his state of mind ― a sense of hovering between places, Taiwan and New York.”

— Elisabeth Biondi, “A Surreal Road Trip,” Photograph Magazine May/June 2013

Chen used his personal intimate memories accumulated in the two years he’d spent in the States to make the artist book, In Between. Every image’s “studium” has been intentionally positioned in the book gutter, making any faces or facial impressions invisible. The reader is then only able to peek at the abstract figures or ambiguous narrative elements instead of particular people or things; for the audience, as a result of not being able to see, was able to keep the true memories in literally the middle of the book―the deepest spot in his memory.

The exhibition will also present his recent ongoing projects. Still Life Taiwan series, which Chen has searched for, photographed and documented still life on site in Taiwan. He hoped to observe and reveal the sculpture shaped by the society and its culture of Taiwan in the form of found objects; Past in the Future, the most recent project that he added future dates on his snap shot photographs from the past. Like studying history, from the past photographs, Chen tries to figure out his life patterns to foresee the future―his life after leaving from New York.

About the Artist:

I-Hsuen Chen is a New York-based artist, born and raised in Taiwan. He received an MFA in Photography from Pratt Institute in 2012. His work has been selected for the New York Photo Festival’s 2012 Invitational, his series Nowhere in Taiwan is in the Permanent Collections of Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and he was chosen as one of Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward Emerging Photographers 2012. In 2011 he won Jen Bekman Gallery’s Blurb book prize and a Hey Hot Shot! Honorable Mention, and was awarded the New Artist Feature by the site Culturehall, chosen by curator Tema Stauffer. Chen’s work has been published in magazines and online, including Photograph Magazine, Conveyor Magazine, PHOTONEWS (Germany), THE NEW YORKER PHOTO BOOTH, American Photo, and CCNY blog. His work has also been shown at hpgrp Gallery New York, Foley Gallery, Ed Varie Gallery, 25CPW Gallery, and ISE Foundation in New York. Before coming to the U.S., he was a professional opera and choir singer in Taiwan.

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