The Womb & The Diamond
The Womb & The Diamond is a solo exhibition by Taipei-based artist Charwei Tsai and curated by Dr. Jau-lan Guo at Vital Space and Art Corner at National Taichung Theatre in Taiwan. This exhibition presents a series of newly commissioned projects inspired by personal pilgrimages that the artist took in the past three years. Through these journeys, Tsai traces the wisdom tradition of tantra that is stemmed in 5th century India and through the medieval trade routes across western China, it reached furthest east to Japan, south to Java, and north to Mongolia.
The central piece of this exhibition is a six by three meters installation made with glass and mirrors in reference to The Womb & The Diamond Realm mandalas from Koyasan in Japan. Known for writing mantras on ephemeral materials, for this project, Tsai experiments with using breath and the sound of reciting one-syllable mantras to form each glass piece. These captured mantras are then placed on a circular mirror as a part of the larger mandala.
Along her journeys, Tsai encountered rural communities many of whom are under the threat of losing their livelihoods of working with natural materials and traditional crafts to hyper consumerism. As a way to honor gentler ways of working with the Earth, Tsai collaborates with craftswomen from Indonesia and Mongolia to create a body of woven and sewn mandalas. Ndewa & Hamanangu, is a series of ikat textiles made with a young weaver Nency Dwi Ratna from the island of Sumba in Indonesia through the support of curator Alia Swastika. For this 10-month project, the weaver closely followed traditional methods passed down through her mother. As a tribute to the tradition, hand-spun yarn from locally sourced cotton and plant based-dye from hand-picked native plants took the form of a local totem "lobster" that symbolizes re-generation. Every step of the preparation follows the natural rhythms of the land. What seems to be mundane labor manifests into sacred geometries representing the interdependence of micro and macro cosmologies.
At National Taichung Theater’s Art Corner, Tsai will create a site-specific and durational piece writing verses from the Flower Ornament Sutra on rice paper painted with natural pigments extracted from cinnabar. This work will fill the seven by five meter window panel of the opera house. Additional drawings, using pigment extracts from minerals such as azurite and malachite found in the cave paintings along the trade routes where many sutras travelled from India to East Asia during the Tang Dynasty, will also be exhibited at the main space.
Charwei Tsai is preoccupied with the human/nature relationship. Her work meditates on the complexities of cultural beliefs, spirituality, and existential transience. Her multi-media practice is highly personal yet universal in her exploration of geographical, social, and spiritual motifs, encouraging viewer participation beyond passive viewing.
Her recent exhibitions include: Lines Tell Everything about the Universe at Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan (2021); Biennale Jogja #5 Equator (2019); Power of Intention: Reinventing the (prayer) Wheel at Rubin Museum, New York (2019); Water at Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia (2019); Charwei Tsai: Bulaubulau (solo) at Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA), Manchester, UK (2018); Minimalism: Space, Light, Object at Art Science Museum in collaboration with National Gallery Singapore (2018); Hear Her Singing, commissioned by Hayward Gallery at Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London, UK (2017) Water Moon (solo) at Institute of Contemporary Art, Villeurbanne/Rhône-Alpes, France (2017) and Biennale of Sydney The Future is Already Here (2016). Tsai also publishes a curatorial journal Lovely Daze, since 2005. The complete set of journals is in the library collections of MoMA, Tate Modern, Pompidou Center, and MACBA, Barcelona. Tsai graduated from Rhode Island School of Design (2002) and completed the postgraduate research program, La Seine, École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris (2010).
Live Forever Foundation values sustainability in environmental and cultural aspects through supporting activities that enhance the relationship between human, art and nature. Founded in 2012, we are devoted to preserving our cultural heritage for future generations. At Live Forever Foundation, we put social responsibility at the heart of what we do. Through organizing exhibitions and charitable events, we aim to improve the quality of life through art and education.
edition of 500
signed by artist