Kao Tsan-Hsing’s sculptural pieces of iron and stainless steel have considerably enriched and widened the horizon of Taiwanese art in a period when three-dimensional artistic creation, as opposed to oil and traditional ink painting, were only just beginning to regain a foothold after WW II.

After graduating from Taiwan’s first sculpture department at the National Taiwan University of Arts in 1969, Kao completely dedicated himself to researching the possibilities of iron and steel, those emblematic materials of industrial production and their interplay between volume, scale, mass, color, and their technical processing such as casting, forging, or welding. The result is a perfect mastery of the stylistic balance between the sheer weight of the material and an organic, tangible, and smooth lightness, and also between the graduations of surface texture and color.

Since 1990, confronting global ecological change, Kao infuses into his previously abstract sculpture with social content. Human figures emerge and environmental issues are launched. In his ecological work of around 2004, Kao accomplished a major body of “green” pieces that are both elusive and subtle.

His ready-made materials, waste iron and steel, are subjected to a transformation from their original hard massive weight into its opposite, into something light, fragile, delicate and dissolvable. These simulations of green grasses are of anthropomorphic nature, as shown at the Rhapsody in Green exhibition at the Venice Biennale 2013. Inanimate, yet seemingly possessing a living spirit, these industrial materials - turned - artworks raise the question whether they can have a say in our present global eco-crisis.

In Ecocline, his sculptural exhibit for OPEN, Kao has created a narrative piece full of playfulness. Subjecting the material to a wide range of transformations, he succeeds in imbuing the huge sculpture of over 60 kilograms with a sense of lightness and delicacy - were it not for those green grasses hanging in the air which point to a state of displacement and convey a sense of uneasiness.


Text by Yang Wen-I