“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, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Family is the source of our earliest and deepest human connections. Once, every family had a photo album that served as a reminder of those ties, often long after the people pictured were dead. But in the age of iPhones and Facebook, family albums of photographs, let alone paintings, seem outdated and pointless. What painting can capture anything like the detail of a phone camera’s five-megapixel images? But Huang Hua-Chen is not after detail—just the opposite, in fact. In The Family Album: So See You Later (2010), she deliberately neutralises the contents of her “album”, removing the particulars that make the images identifiable and thus possess-able. The images are based on an assortment of her own and her friends’ snapshots, and might have been taken by almost anyone. Yet they are also deeply personal. At the centre of the display is a portrait of the artist’s father, framed in black as if he is dead. This is a fiction, consciously constructed to by the young Huang Hua-Chen to help her cope with a reality she found even harder to face: that he abandoned his family. Her pictures are her way of persuading herself that the normal family she never had is real.