BY JHANG, HUEI-HUEI
“Wounds can be repaired, but you will always remember where the pain was.” – Yang Zong-Jia.
The newborn twin with a teardrop, pursed lips, floating on the glacier(Snow, 2020); two back-to-back narcissus boys bow their heads and calmly close their eyes with a mirror hung on their chests(Reflection, 2021); the teddy bear boy opens his arms with sharp beast claws, naively waiting for a hug (Bear I, 2020). Yang Zong-Jia’s solo exhibition “Under the delicate” creates a dreamy playroom of children on two levels at Hiro Hiro Art Space, intending to recreate his repressed and lost childhood in a sweet yet hidden, dangerous way. A total of 24 sculptures are exhibited, showcasing two motifs, “Twins” and “Sex.”
Retracing the lost childhood with “Twins.
For a long time, “Twins” has been the central motif of Yang’s work. In his works like “Snow (2020)”, “Twin tress (2020)”, and “Twin could (2020)”, Yang Zong-Jia reveals his identity as the twin. His twin brother, however, passed away at the age of one, leaving them unable to grow up together. These hand-sculpted porcelain dolls in various forms seem exquisite and delicate, yet “delicacy” not only portrays porcelain’s fragility but also the fragility of life itself. “I use the delicate porcelain dolls to express the fragility of life and my incompetence to do anything about saving my brother,” said Yang Zong-Jia.
He was even unable to save his young self. In the traditional gender stereotype of Taiwanese society, where boys are not allowed to play with dolls or love the color pink, he lacked the confidence to be himself. And it is barely conceivable for a child who had been restrained by external voices since childhood to say out loud, “I don’t belong here; I belong to myself.” As a result, Yang Zong-Jia’s dolls purse their lips in sorrowful, as survivors with great tolerance and stubbornness.
Fortunately, he has art. After adulthood, Yang Zong-Jia uses the fragile characteristic of porcelain to express the unstable relationships between several dualities, male/female, child/adult, real/illusory and so on. As a person liable to disguise, only when he faces his creations can he let his hair down.
The exhibition room on the first floor is designed as a playroom. When bypassing the colorful wall, there is a child’s bedroom facing the outside the large window of Hiro Hiro Art Space, where the public/private area has almost no boundaries. Works “Little white riding hood, 2020”, “Shadow Ghost, 2021”, “Rainbow girl, 2020”, “Twinkle-Twinkle, 2020” are displayed on a bed, which are painted in his childhood-favorite color, pink.
Unveil the sugar coating, confront the desire.
Art is the language that allows Yang to speak of his authentic self. “My twin brother’s death had a great impact on me during my upbringing, and it was only at a very late stage did I realize I had to identify myself.” He has then developed a series about sex, beginning with “Sex is Undoubtedly Pure” (2017) and continuing with “Flesh Habitat: Flesh Buds” and “Flesh Habitat: Flesh Chrysalis,” which won the Gold Prize in National Art Exhibition in 2019. Confronting the desire, each “sex toy” is an extension of “Porcelain dolls.”
“Sex toys are an extension of the sex organs, soothing people’s physiological needs. To me, it is like a pacifier. Pacifier is a pursuit and satisfaction of oral desires and psychosexuality to a baby; the nature of sex toys, dealing with human sexuality and desires, is no different,” said Yang Zong-Jia.
Yang Zong-Jia combines children’s soothing toys with adult sex toys. “Animations that use transformation as a power, with magical items that turn into weapons through a spell—for me, this has a solid sexual connotation,” said Yang. His works of sex toys are his magic wand, using them to summon his other identity. Whether his childhood or sex, they are all part of Yang. Chen Pin-Yu, the founder of Hiro Hiro Art Space, said: “Zong-Jia’s works seem sweet in appearance, but not exactly. The combination of “Sex Toys” and “Porcelain dolls” may counterbalance the viewer’s impression of sweetness. Under the delicate form, everyone has desires, and we hope to remove the sweet coating little by little to take a peek at the artist’s inner world”
The delicate is shameless, and beautiful.
Aside from sweetness, senses of loneliness, wildness, and desires are all hidden in the mended cracks of Yang Zong-Jia’s artworks. Pointing to the works that appear to have never cracked, pure white and flawless, Yang said lightly, “People think that having cracks on ceramic is a flaw, but that is an inevitable process for ceramics.
He admits that the most time-consuming and exhausting part of the porcelain creation process is repairing. Cracks, as injuries in life, are unavoidable, but people try hard to repair them so that the wounds can eventually disappear and heal. However, anyone who has been wounded can still remember the location of the wound. ” If the ceramic cracked, it cracked. The whole thing has changed, and nothing can reverse it and bring it back to its original state,” said Yang. “Just like the wounds I got during my upbringing, no matter how well they recovered, I know the place of the wound is never actually gone,” he paused and smiled, “but it will heal and become new skin.”