texts > press releases > “Thoughtforms” – The Guild Art Gallery, Mumbai

October 18 – November 2, 2011
Preview: Monday, October 17, 7 pm – 9 pm

The Guild Art Gallery is pleased to present Thoughtforms Charwei Tsai’s first solo exhibition in India, previewing on Monday, October 17, 2011.

“Thoughtforms are manifestations of the mind’s energy that formulate and emanate themselves by means of mantras, sound vibrations and philosophy. Every thought is centred on a form and a form around a thought. These Thoughtforms are living forces, which are structured, materialised and bound through the mind of their creator.

Charwei Tsai’s art practice is strongly affiliated with Thoughtforms, the Buddhist notion of impermanence and the cyclical nature of human existence. Tsai’s art reflects and conserves her Thoughtforms, which in turn are platforms for viewers’ reflections and perceptions.
The Thoughtforms in this exhibition manifest themselves through the artist’s reflections on – politics with reference to alienation; ceremonies with reference to reversal cycles; religion in conjunction with harmony in diversity; society and it’s effect on individuals with reference to Kafka; love and its synonymous nature with loneliness and manipulation; light with reference to accidental beauty; and growth through the enlightenment of the Heart Sutra – a mantra that is a recurring motif in Tsai’s work.

Thoughtforms and the Heart Sutra imply the psychology of un-minding the mind to equate emptiness with enlightenment. The text Tsai implements in her work from mantras to quotes and political statements are an extension of her strong belief in the transient nature of the universe.
Tsai’s Thoughtforms and literary affinity continuously grow in her biannual journal publications – Lovely Daze”
- Veeranaganakumari Solanki

Charwei Tsai was born in Taiwan (1980) and presently lives and works in Taipei and Paris. In addition to her art practice, Tsai publishes, designs and edits Lovely Daze, a curatorial journal published twice a year. Tsai graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Industrial Design and Art & Architectural History (2002) and completed the postgraduate research program at L’École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris (2010). She has had solo exhibitions in Taipei, Paris, Sydney, Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong, Beijing, and Bogotá, and her projects have been included in various international exhibitions, including the inaugural Singapore Biennale (2006), Thermocline of Art: New Asian Waves at the ZKM Center of Art and Media, Karlsruhe (2007), Traces du Sacré at the Centre Pompidou, Paris (2008), the 6th Asia Pacific Triennial (2009), and Taiwan Calling at the Ludwig Museum, Budapest (2010). Tsai is also a participating artist in the Yokohama Triennale and the Ruhrtriennale (both in 2011).


On politics…
Work Title: Etrangere II
Media: Hand-inscribed photograph
Dimension: 112 x 76 cms
Edition: 2/6
Year: 2007

Concept: I wrote numbers from my Taiwanese passport onto alien-like octopus.

On ceremony…
Work Title: Baptism
Media: Video
Edition: 4/5
Duration: 2min30sec
Year: 2009

Concept: A reverse baptism ceremony performed where a child cleanses her mother’s hands at a Baptismal font in a church in Paris.

On religion…
Work Title: Ah!
Media: HD Digital Video
Edition: 5/5
Duration: 5min
Date: 2011
Credit: Commissioned by The Esplanade, Singapore
Sound by: Zai Tang

Concept: “Ah!” is a video created originally for a public space, which is a tunnel leading from a metro station to the national theatre in Singapore for the occasion of the “Tapestry of Sacred Music” Festival. The work celebrates the religious diversity and harmony in Singapore by using a range of voices from people of various backgrounds chanting “Ah”. “Ah” is a sacred sound that many major religions in Singapore and around the world embrace, e.g.: “A-llah “, “A-men”, “A-mitabah”, “A-lleluia”, and “A-OM”. The work aspires to connect a sense of inner peace that is within us all.

On society…
Work Title:  “Germany Has Declared War on Russia. Swimming in the Afternoon.” Kafka – diary, 1914
Media: Video
Edition: 4/5
Date: 2007

Concept: Kafka’s unveils a dilemma between the collective verses individual action. Often times while listening to the news or reading the paper, we feel very strongly about the injustices happening around the world. On the other hand, even after such moments, our everyday life continues the way it has always been as if nothing had happened.

In this video, I wrote Kafka’s quote on my hand as a reminder of the mixed feelings of defeat and confidence on an individual’s effect on the society and pre-existing systems. The video is projected onto a table where the viewer would put his/her hand on top of my projected hand. It is as if I am writing the quote like a note of reminder on their hand. Then, as they walk away, the writing fades as well.

On love…
Work Title: Bonsai Series I ~ XI (series of 9)
Dimension: 26×31 cms each
Media: Hand inscribed on lithographs
Date: 2011

Concept: Lyrics of love songs that I grew up listening to in Taiwan about loneliness in love are written onto bonsais, which are trees that are manipulated and dwarfed for a sense of beauty.

On light…
Work Title: Gone Beyond (a series of 7)
Media: Hand inscribed on black and white Ink-jet prints
Dimensions: 98x120cms
Year: 2011

Concept: Gone Beyond (2011) is continuation of a series of black and white photographs where I write the mantra from the end of the Heart Sutra onto light diffusions captured by a camera with a broken lens. In religious ceremonies, the mantra is recited orally or presented visually in mandalas as an aid to move forward, to be freed from attachments. The accidental beauty created by a broken machine relieves a need to control perceptions.

On growth…
Work Title: Champa Mantra
Media: Heart Sutra inscribed with permanent Chinese ink on Champa tree
Dimensions: Growing
Year: 2011