This story was featured in
the October 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine.
A new show at Waterhouse Gallery
this month presents a thoughtful look at modern society and its
love affair with technology. The 35 paintings by San Francisco
artist Hsin-Yao Tseng often capture urbanites plugged in
as they amble through city streets, often with headphones cupping
their ears. It is apparent that people check their smartphones
and iPads, answer emails, text, log in to Facebook, and post
photos on Instagram constantly, day and night, Tseng says.
A choice to participate in the current mainstream culture
creates a sense of control, however, the demand to remain plugged
in may control us.
The show, aptly titled Disconnect,
opens with a reception on Saturday, October 10, from 5 to 7 p.m.
Tsengs moody paintings, which sometimes border on abstraction,
focus on the figure in the environment. The abstract sensibility
is not an accident. Tseng has spent a great deal of time studying
works by abstract painters, exploring in depth both their compositions
and their mark-making.
DISCONNECT, the title piece,
depicts two young women who appear captivated by their electronic
devices, communicating as they stand back to back. Here
our notions of interconnectedness are challenged by our detachment
from our surroundings, Tseng says. The headphone
cable in this painting seems to connect the two figures, but
the emotion and the spirit [of the figures] are separated or
In the painting LISTEN TO THE
CITY, a young woman strolls across a San Francisco street with
headphones draped around her neck. She is unplugged
and appears to be paying attention to the actual sounds of the
world around her, suggesting that there is a time to forego electronic
devices. In yet another painting, Tseng suggests that people
need to unplug in even more extreme ways: A lone figure stands
in the middle of what seems a nature preserve or ?forest of some
kind. It is winter, and the ground is blanketed in snow. BLUE
DECEMBER is a piece trying to guide people away from the city,
all the ?stress and technology, and just appreciate the beauty
of nature, Tseng says. Bonnie Gangelhoff