Elegant yet Powerful Creations: Fang-Yu Chou's Wonderworld
Artist Fang-Yu Chou usually adopts the artist-in-residence programs. It's a way to work in a new environment and explore new ideas inventively. Chou is excelling at taking the ideas in her mind and combining them with the local environment, architecture, and ecology to create a series of artistic works that touch people's hearts.

PhotoFangYu Chou

TextWenchien Wu

Starting the journey of creation from Jinguashi town, subsequently, Kinmen, Taitung, to Chiba of Japan, the Tainan-born artist Fang-Yu Chou adopts the artist-in-residence programs to create. In the beginning, Chou used installation art and documentary to represent local practices and customs. Later on, she brings her paintbrush to life again, then creates a new wonderworld by trying the acrylic paint.

Many folk elements in Taiwan are found in Chou's paintings, such as the betel nut stand by the street, an old rattan chair in the countryside, or a traffic cone fallen to the ground. However, these paintings don't just reflect the real scenery of Taiwan. Moreover, Chou uses her imagination to deconstruct these elements of folk culture and turn them into romantic creations with local features.

Spark of Inspiration: Environment vs. Sweets
The first time that Chou used her paintbrush to create was during the artist-in-residence program while staying at the Wan-Da branch of the Chin Ai Elementary School in the Ren'ai Township of Nantou County. It's actually not realistic to make a large-sized installation art on the mountains as there are limited resources. So Chou uses acrylic paint, plus paintbrushes, to create the Food Landscape series, each of the paintings expressing sweets by fusing with natural elements.
This Food Landscape series was inspired by the changes in the natural landscape of the mountains. Chou found out that the weather changes quite quickly while she stayed in the mountains. It might be a sunny day in the morning, but changes to a rainy day in the evening and cause a landslide. And that inspired Chou to create her work Be Careful While Walking Along the Mountain Roads, an image reflecting a collapsed section of the mountain road.

18x18cm  Acrylic on canvas  2020

It's a seasonal routine to witness the migratory birds stay at the seaside of Kinmen to get through the winter. Chou connects this element, a bird migration routine, with Kinmen's local food, Guangdong congee, and turns these two ideas into the painting A Bowl of Wetland Cognee. And people's first impression of Kinmen is the local conditions and customs of an outlying battlefield. Chou combines the Deyue Gun Tower, an aged military bunker in Kinmen, with the local yummy burger and transfers the idea into the painting Food Landscape VI: Gun Burger.

45.5x53cm Acrylic on canvas  2016

50x50cm Acrylic on canvas  2018

A Fortuitous Encounter Bringing Architecture and People Together
With the first-person perspective in storytelling, Fang-Yu Chou creates a remarkable Homeland series. Chou invites visitors to act as a character of an outsider and come in front of the house in her painting, like entering into a place that is devoid of people.
Like the comfy bungalow sited at the seaside of Taitung, the single-storey house in the painting is covered by earthquake clouds and marine life is turned into the floating balloons in the sky. For Chou, when she visits here, she realizes that the colors of the sea change at different moments, like azure and baby blue colors. And Chou reflects these colors in her painting.
45.5x53cm Acrylic on canvas  2022

45.5x53cm Acrylic on canvas  2022

These building paintings are with strong local features. Like Kinmen's traditional architecture in the painting Elegant Historic Existence, an eye-catching, local element shows up at a glance. On the contrary, some of the Homeland series are expressed imaginatively. Like the painting Let's Get the Party Started, a house with light at night leaves room for the viewer's imagination.

50x50cm Acrylic on canvas  2022

45.5x53cm Acrylic on canvas  2022
Breakthrough Art Techniques
The Outsider exhibition will close on 3rd July 2022. The Food Landscape and Homeland series are on display at the solo exhibition. Moreover, it's an exhibit that debuts Chou's paintings created in the European journeys on display. Apart from the two-dimensional acrylic painting techniques, Chou adds the three-dimensional techniques to these artistic creations created while traveling around the European countries.

The artist-in-residence program usually takes a long term to experience the feelings of life. Different from it, Chou's works completed along with the European journeys still present romantic and elegant colors. After Chou spent a while collecting her thoughts, she could try more styles and techniques to present in the painting. It's quite a breakthrough for her creations.

22x35cm Acrylic on canvas  2022
From the artist-in-residence program to a journey, Chou says she's still in the middle of exploring what these two mean to art. But it's sure that she will go on with paintbrushes and paints to record the lives of Taiwan's ordinary people and her journey memories.

Time: Jun 11 to Jul 3
Venue: JXJbooks (1F., No. 6, Ln. 117, Shida Rd., Da’an Dist., Taipei City)

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