BACK WALL 2 – Richard Tsao: Green Acres
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Art Projects International is pleased to present Green Acres by Richard Tsao for our second BACK WALL initiative, a series of intimate and focused presentations.
Richard Tsao’s ink on paper 1991-1992 “Green Acres” works subtly offer an origin story for the artist while presaging his later well-known pigment works. Tsao has associated these green-hued works with enjoying seeing at dusk “shapes, patterns, and shadows” from the “big tropical leaves” in his family’s large garden in the Bangkok of his youth.
In New York, where Tsao has lived and worked since 1976, the series might remind of his process-based works that he slowly accretes by floating pigment in water and capturing desired amalgams of hues. The ink of the “Green Acres” works has been directly applied to the paper and manipulated with water; it still seems to be in motion, and its varying densities result in soft chromatic and value variation that contrast strongly with the unpigmented areas of the paper. Light green bleeds in rivulets into dark green, and elsewhere, crisp edges delineate areas of bright white.
Lantom or bat flower leaves might be suggested or even the leaves of the giant elephant ear, but more, these paintings announce questions Tsao has been answering for decades. What is the relationship between color and texture? What happens to color in full light, in shadow? What is suggested by using a process imitative of nature—of water pouring off broad leaves? How does water imitate light? How does one use water as a brush?
In Tsao’s “Green Acres,” there is a bright light that shimmers and is revealed and then hidden again by form that flows from one state of reflection to another. Tsao’s masterful ability to apply pigment and his famous sensitivity to color allow these rich and expressive yet minimalist ink on paper works to create their own context. And in this reality, we also see evoked what is not shown. A beauty as brightly varied and delicate as the colors of the lantom flower is manifested just with green patterning.
The 1990s were an active period for Tsao as an artist in New York with his works appearing in numerous exhibitions and in print, and the aesthetic complexity of these paintings on paper attracted the attention of the collector Wynn Kramarsky, with a donated “Green Acres” piece being now part of the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts collection.
Richard Tsao (b. 1954, Bangkok, Thailand. Lives and works in New York) is well known for using a process oriented, labor intensive approach and particular aesthetic of beauty in creating his paintings and works on paper. A long-time resident of New York, Tsao continues to be inspired by his memories of growing up in Bangkok and his signature vibrantly colored multi-layered “flood room” paintings and works on paper evoke the lush nature of his native Thailand. Recent solo exhibitions include: Richard Tsao: Monotypes, Art Projects International, New York (2020); Richard Tsao: Works from Industry City, Art Projects International, New York (2014); Richard Tsao: Nam Wan, Art Projects International, New York (2010); Richard Tsao: Flooding, Art Link, Seoul, Korea (2008); Flood, Chambers Fine Art, New York (2005); Portraits, 100 Tonson Gallery, Bangkok, Thailand (2004). His work is represented in major collections including the Weatherspoon Art Museum, Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts Foundation Collection, and Montefiore Fine Art Collection, New York.
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