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Charwei Tsai / IN THE MOOD FOR ART

Manifesting the Buddhist concept of Emptiness


Charwei Tsai

Born in Taipei, 1980, Charwei Tsai currently lives and works in Taipei and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). She graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in Industrial Design and Art & Architectural History (2002), and the postgraduate research program La Seine at L’École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris (2010). Highly personal yet universal concerns spur Tsai’s multi-media practice. Geographical, social, and spiritual motifs inform a body of work, which encourages viewer participation outside the confines of complacent contemplation. Preoccupied with the human/nature relationship, Tsai meditates on the complexities among cultural beliefs, spirituality, and transience.




Spiral Incense Mantra


Installation of hand-inscribed spiral incenses

150cm each

The Heart Sutra is inscribed on spiral incenses, commonly seen in traditional Buddhist temples in Asia. The incenses for this installation are custom-made by a family-owned incense factory, currently run by the third generation in Tainan, one of the oldest regions in the south of Taiwan. These scripted large spiral incenses are lit during the duration of the exhibition, and gradually transformed into smoke and ashes, manifesting the Buddhist concept of emptiness.

PICTURE 1 In the mood for Art

Incense Mantra I~IV


4 Photographs, 66x150cm

In collaboration with Tsering Tashi Gyalthang

This series of 4 black and white photographs was inspired by the history of Hong Kong as the “Fragrant Harbor” based on its large production of incense from locally grown sandalwood. (“Hong” means fragrant in the local Cantonese dialect and “Kong” means harbor.) For this project, Tsai sourced a large piece of incense from a local store on Queen’s Road West, an area in Hong Kong known for its sales of objects for religious and ceremonial offerings, and wrote the Heart Sutra in Chinese calligraphy on it. The sutra is a Buddhist text that Tsai has memorized as a child and is a seminal text on the concept of impermanence. She then lit the incense on a mirror reflecting the sky as an offering to the city. The work encourages a moment of contemplation on the spiritual significance of the sacred text while the physical form of the text transforms into ashes and smoke revealing the backdrop of the city’s celebrated skyline. Through the opportunity of working within a local context in Hong Kong, Tsai expands on her exploration of making works of art as objects of meditation and tools for spiritual and social practice.

Special thanks to Tsering Tashi Gyalthang, Jenny Lee, Allen Lin, Emily Chiang, Lesley Ma, Floria Wun, Edouard Malingue Gallery, TKG+, Asia Society Hong Kong


香咒 IIV



與茨仁.扎西.建塘(Tsering Tashi Gyalthang)合作


特別感謝:茨仁.扎西.建塘(Tsering Tashi Gyalthang)、李晏禎、Allen Lin、Emily Chiang、馬唯中、Floria Wun、馬凌畫廊、TKG+、亞洲協會香港中心

PICTURE 2 In the mood for Art

More of Charwei Tsai work : www.charwei.com