SHI Jin-Hua was born in Magong, Penghu in 1964 to a stable, well-to-do family of civil servants. He moved to Hualien with his family at age 5 because his father had a job transfer there. When he was 10 years old, the family moved again to Kaohsiung and they finally settled there. Although he moved several times when he was a child, Shi did enjoy a peaceful family life. A disease that took him by surprise when he was 17, however, brought the artist to a different life path. Due to constant pain, Shi's life changed tremendously. Such pain resulting from sickness has even become the core concept in his artworks as it inspires him to ruminate over the meaning of life. Shi obtained a bachelor's degree from the Department of Fine Arts, National Taiwan Normal University in 1990. He pursued further studies in the United States in 1994 and obtained an MFA degree from the Department of Art at University of California, Irvine in 1996. Other than these, he was awarded the grand prize at the 11th Lion Art New Artist Award in 1986. In 2007, he bagged the Taipei Arts Award and two grand prizes, one from the Kaohsiung Fine Arts Award and the other from the 10th LI Chung-Shen Foundation Visual Art Awards.
Half-naked man, labor work with simple rhythm, the body of Shi Jin-Hua is his own media to the very core. By repetitive, ritual-wise movement, his work is hidden with tin-depth epiphany of life. Pencils are just like you and me, spending its metaphorical life attempting to leave some trace on a piece of paper. When it is consumed, its life meets the end. The process could be happy or sad, but by such creation, Shi provide a brand new interpretation to the eternal philosophical debate between body and mind, but also, a channel to communicate with one's inner self.
What is the meaning of life? The artist has been confounded by this existential question for a long time. Due to chronic illness, Shi has to keep a daily record of his body using a number of machines. This measurement/documentation, carried out day after day, makes Shi feels he is constantly performing a religious practice. His representative work Pencil Walker derives from this everyday condition of his. Coming out of the seemingly monotonous acts are the deep moments of life that he has experienced. He wants to show that life is like a river, and that every bit of it has to be lived by oneself so that one can truly accept or let go of its joy and sorrow. Taking a behavior art approach, Shi draws down these life philosophies. 「Pencil」 in this artwork becomes a metaphor of life. The lives of you and me are like a pencil. It draws lines after lines as time (represented by the paper sheet) passes. In the end, it dwindles into the void, leaving indistinguishable traces behind. Out from the layered pencil lines in this artwork, the absurdity of life, the vicissitudes of life, the nature of death, and all the worldly emotions seem to be exuding the light of wisdom. Symbolically speaking, the pencil can even be taken as a synonym of soul. The traces that each pencil leaves are the different traces of life of different people. The white wall is like a mustard seed that encompasses a diverse world (note: in Vimalakirti Sutra, a bodhisattva who lives in the inconceivable liberation can put a mountain into a mustard seed). It represents the miniature of life's journey. In his works, SHI Jin-Hua explains to viewers how they can find the existential meaning of life through art, while showing a much contemplated artistic style. His body, which gives him a sense of intimacy and this-worldliness, has inspired him more than restrained him. In fact, other than replacements of the human body, such as pencils and shoes, the artist has also used his own body and its derivatives (e.g. urine) to reflect on life. Even more interestingly, in 2010, SHI Jin-Hua released A Trilogy of Contemporary Art Alchemy, which looks into the production mechanism of contemporary art. This artwork no longer focuses so much on body and measurement, and can thus be considered an indication of the artist's new path. With this piece of art, Shi again draws attention from many.
|English title：||Pencil Walker|
|Medium / Classification：||Mixed Media|
|Collection Unit：||Courtesy of the artist|
|Contact method for authorization：||
|Related Exhibition：||"The Pioneers" of Taiwanese Artists, 1961-1970|