Since the 1990s Liu Shih-tung has been exploring a variety of different creative forms with a powerfully experimental character through large-scale installation art, such as his “Extreme Mother,” an enormous bright yellow inflatable doll placed beneath the Guandu Bridge over the Tamsui River; or his “Beast of Good Fortune,” a large installation piece fashioned from the structure of an automobile.
The process of these ongoing deconstructions and reassemblies of the vocabulary of various media was summarized in stages at Liu’s 2001 solo exhibition “Neon Light, Flash, Flash, Flash” at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum. The works presented in that exhibition largely combined a variety of media, arranging and reorganizing the symbolic imagery to form a collage of his creative keynotes over the recent preceding years.
Liu’s collage works are full of a richness and vibrancy, using visual techniques such as placement, dissociation and amalgamation to create a painting-like space of ambiguous symbolic relationships and interwoven connotations. Scrutinizing his works, the observer will find within varying paper textures, densities, colorings and printing techniques that produce subtle variations amongst these fragmentary images in terms of shading, depth and textures as well as the artist’s conscious effort to orchestrate space and dimensions of the images through arrangement of the pigment substrates, presenting a sense of experiential beauty unlike that of the uniformity of digital imagery. In other words, even if the operative logic behind this cut and paste game is based upon the same simple concept as the similar “layering,” the handcrafted production ensures that the image fragments are interrelated, maintaining the previous “object to object” relationship and not purely on the level of interweaving the visual symbolism into the milieu.
The extemporaneous development of the images of these works reveals that Liu’s mode of creation is somewhat like a game. Liu has previously stated: “I think making a game out of creativity is a pretty good method because only when a person is in a relatively relaxed state are they really able to that part of themselves which is real … For me, those parts of my body that come in closest contact with the work, like my hands, the more relaxed the better.”
Liu’s works exhibit an orderly composition that straddles the line between the warmth of the tactile and paper based imagery. It’s an effect that demands exclusive focus, enormous patience and meticulous effort to produce and amid the layered, conjoined/separated and randomly strewn images can be discerned the very rhythms of the artist’s breathing and adjusting of his body posture.
(Excerpt, Wang Sheng-hong; Rocking Amid Weightless Images: Liu Shih-tung’s “Image Drift”)