“I want the situations and relationships in my paintings to be simple, even slightly boring. I want to show the possibility for imagination.”
Born 1986, Taipei, Taiwan
Family is for most people the first and deepest experience of connection to others. Once, every family had a photo album that served as a reminder of those ties, often long after the people pictured were dead. But family albums have all but vanished. Many people’s iPhones hold more photos of their loved ones than they can count, and Facebook allows them to share those images with the world. In the digital age, a family album of paintings seems not only outdated but pointless. What painting can capture anything like the detail of a five-megapixel image? But Huang Hua-Chen is not after detail—just the opposite, in fact. She deliberately neutralises her family “snapshots”, removing the particulars that make them identifiable and thus possess-able. Most people feel no connection to a photo of someone else’s mother or child. But Huang Hua-Chen’s mother and child figures might be almost anyone’s. The locales and activities of her “family” are fragmented and isolated with the same effect. In these ways, Family Album: So See You Later (2010) blurs the distinction between the artist’s experience and the viewer’s, tapping into the universal in both family relationships and the emotions that go with them. Expecting to see Huang Hua-Chen’s family story, we cannot help seeing parts of our own story in her pictures. Art, in her hands, achieves something an iPhone rarely can.