Thursday, July 25: Iris Yirei Hu, “Where Do People Live Who Never Die”
Iris Hu’s paintings bring sidelong glances at, and her memories of, the architecture of her family’s home city, the megalopolis of Taipei, into the domestic and very charged personal space of her grandmother’s home. Using collage techniques as well as straight painting, Hu depicts old fashioned furnishings, modern skyscrapers and – in one painting – a shrine to her family’s elders.
My sense of her paintings in her studio was that Hu has embarked on the painful yet optimistic process of discovery that takes place when a young person who is flush with education and technique, yet who is new to experience, returns home to family and culture and religion and in that familiar place finds new depth; in doing so the artist points the way to new depths also in herself and in the viewer.
Hu’s paintings are not exemplary of any specific culture – be it one based in her North American home or in Asia or somewhere between, and one need not know if the artist is a hybrid citizen of 21st Century nomadicism or if her sense of place is rooted in the 20th Century; rather, in her paintings Hu explores the possibility of personal culture, she finds inspiration in the objects and architectures that become iconic through the comfort and ideas they bring to an individual. Evading the signifiers of popular and political identity, Hu seems to find presence in feeling and in empathy; her paintings invite the viewer to find meaning in her own enigmatic and colorful world.