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January 1, 2006

Furthermore, Hsu, Gerlin, lines are themselves a kind of painting language because his lines are meant to draw a kind of objective shape and to manifest the lines’ own gesture to express a similar textual “meaning.” But this “meaning” is different from modernism, which has a preset “structure” of a script or theme. Even if his paintings are marked with titles, these are only alibis. The mark of the charcoal or the pencil is the most important information in the painting. There seems to be some organization in the brush of Hsu, Gerlin, but it is not done to draw or depict a concrete object. If a recognizable or familiar form appears, that was not the ultimate goal of his plan. For example, Wind Dried Camel in the Desert has a “title” that causes the viewer to search for a concrete object in the painting, but we can only see a dried out hoof of an animal. We cannot see the shape of the camel’s body, and around the hoof there are messes of B pencil or charcoal lines that do not have any material form with subtle and diversely layered networks made of HB pencil lines or erasures. This is the “post-structural sketching” found beneath the concept of deconstruction.
If the previous work is a more tranquil, concise, and straightforward painting, Lethal Assembly tends toward a minute and complicated framework that finds order in chaos. Uncertain images that seem like human figures move from the painting’s clearer and simpler upper right corner, as if the single line shape of a “human figure” can be recognized. A mass of twisting lines makes a large half arc from the right, the lower right, the bottom, the lower bottom, and the left, as if it was hiding an unclear human figure. It is only an energetic and restless fairy that scurries here and there. Hsu, Gerlin, lines constantly describe anxiousness yearning to be unleashed. Because of the explosive energy he has stored up in his abnormal life experiences, as soon as he finds a vent, his energy will endlessly spew forth like lava from a volcano. The heaviness and unhurriedness of the lines in his paintings are utterly his own. This freedom has no signs of worry or fretfulness, which proves that the structure of the painting was not planned out ahead of time. The painting evolves freely, though it may seem like it was carefully planned beforehand, in that the important role that each and every line plays seems to fit just perfectly like they were carefully planned in advance. But actually, the “title” is just a simple “whim” or “motivation.” Hsu, Gerlin, paintings are meticulous “post-structural sketching” works nurtured in the postmodern age. They are not academic exercises, and they are not preparatory sketches for oil paintings. It is a separate type of painting.

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“Recently, I have really liked watching black and white movies, especially to appreciate the changes of the shades of gray in each scene. I get a chance to catch a breath in the midst of today’s full-color extravaganzas that wash your field of vision with lurid neon colors. The yearning for color by people in the age of black and white media came from the discrepancy between what they could see on the screen and what they could see all around them. What is strange is that almost one hundred years later, you can see high definition full-color images anywhere you go and even 3D images, yet black and white still seems more realistic than color.” Hsu, Gerlin, summarizes his “black and white logic” by saying: “My decision in recent years to use charcoal to do black and white and grey works more or less reflects this phenomenon.”
The Baroque Italian artist Caravaggio (1573-1610) used the concept of black and white to create his chiaroscuro style to show the effects of light. By the nineteenth century, Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot (1796-1875) thought that the value of the relationship between black and white was the most important of the three primary colors. He once said to the future impressionist painter Camille Pissarro (1830-1903): “I paint trees green, but you paint trees blue. And that’s not important. What’s important is that one must accurately grasp its corresponding color values.” These words of Corot are certainly words of wisdom. Any color has its corresponding black and white light level, which chromatology calls the value. When we paint a natural landscape or still object or a portrait, it is permitted to change the colors or the tone, but the values between the sky, the mountains, the trees, the rivers, and the land must be absolutely respected, according to Corot, because this is the last line of defense in expression of “objective reality.” The principle is the same for portraits or still life paintings. Even in modern painting that has done away with the rules, this concept of black and white relationships is a visual language that cannot be done away with. Some works of Pierre Soularges, Hans Hartung, Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, Clyfford Still, and Ad Reinhardt even use black and white as part of their special trademarks. Black and white are light. (Soularges even said: “Black is light.”) Black and white are also color. The black and white logic of Hsu, Gerlin, actually sees black and white as a “synonym” or “equivalent” for color. When Hsu, Gerlin, Gerlin, Gerlin’s paints charcoal lines of different dark or light shades or B series pencils, in his mind he is thinking of the color that corresponds to the value of the line’s depth or heaviness. So his black and white sketches have rich levels of color pertaining to the diverse changes of the color sense and not merely the heaviness or darkness of the lines.


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