ARTIST'S STATEMENT by Yih-Wen Kuo
Thirty spokes converge upon a hub;
It is on the hole in the center that the use of the car hinges.
We make a vessel from a lump of clay;
It is the empty space within the vessel that makes it useful.
We make doors and windows for a room;
But it is the empty spaces that make the room livable.
Thus while the tangible has advantages;
It is the intangible that makes it useful. Lao-Tzu (C. 550 BC)
My sculptural work has evolved out of the traditional concept of the vessel, but my interest is not making functional pots. I retain the understanding of a vase as a space container. However, my fascination lies in using the Inside/Outside space as a format for expression.
It is much more challenging to create abstract forms of my own. I tend to produce simple, universal forms because they evoke multi-dimensional meaning. These geometric and minimalistic forms with their mysterious openings express a sense of the unseen and the unknown.
The idea of building my sculpture is similar to that of constructing a building. Like an architect, I need to know the basic elements of architectural form and space, understand how they can be manipulated in the development of a design concept, and realize their visual implications in the implementation of a design solution. However, since I am not an architect I do not build a space where people can physically live, rather I create a space through which people can visually sense an atmosphere of authority, timelessness and monumentality.
In my work, the only passage between the inside and outside is the small window-like opening; like a peep-hole window of a medieval castle, it suggests withdrawnness. This window also gives an indication of how large my "building" is. If you look for a door to get into the space, you will find no entrance. The building is encapsulated; it is a space-trap, a great cavern with all its potential for expressing apartness, mystery and entombment. It serves as a metaphor for a tomb, retreat, or the womb, providing a symbolic dwelling for the human spirit.
The interior void space is empty but not vacant, like silence that absorbs the mind and frees it from the outside world. This inside space is an active void that is charged with energy. It evokes not loneliness but contemplation. It is our inner selves.
In order to create more depth of visual space on the surface, I apply different colors and thickness of glazes on my piece. The glaze melts and moves spontaneously during the firing due to heat and gravity. Through this process, I can create a surface similar in feeling to abstract landscape painting, showing a dreamlike illusion and the great force of nature.
When talking about his architectural philosophy, Louis Kahn said:
"A great building must begin with the unmeasurable, go through measurable means when it is being designed, and in the end must be unmeasurable. The design is a measurable act....... But what is unmeasurable is the psychic spirit. The psyche is expressed by feeling and also thought and I believe will always be unmeasurable."
The process of creation is a translation of the inner spirit into being. My intention is to express my inner spirit in work that also achieves this unmeasurable quality that Kahn describes. It is a challenge I embrace enthusiastically.