LAI Chih-Sheng

LAI Chih-Sheng

LAI Chih-Sheng's work is not based on artistic technique but conceptual practice that imparts his audience a familiar yet new experience that is both immediate and poetic. Born in 1971 in Taipei, LAI's recent solo exhibitions include "An Exception to Reality—LAI Chih-Sheng" (ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, 2011), "Instant" (IT Park Gallery, Taipei, 2013). In 2012, his work Life-Size Drawing was invited to participate in "Invisible: Art of the Unseen 1957-2012" (Hayward Gallery, London, 2013). 


LAI Chih-Sheng



Born in Taipei, Taiwan


B.F.A., Department of Fine Arts, Taipei National Institute of the Arts, Taipei,




M.F.A., Institute of Plastic Arts, Tainan National College of the Arts, Tainan,









“Between Dog and Wolf”, ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan


“Scene”, ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan


“Room 1734”, Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris, France


“LAI Chih-Sheng: Instant”, PROJECT ONE, Hong Kong, China


“Instant”, IT PARK, Taipei, Taiwan


“An Exception to Reality: LAI Chih-Sheng”, ESLITE GALLEY, Taipei, Taiwan


“1996 – 2005 Someday, Something and Someone”, IT PARK, Taipei, Taiwan


“Reality in the Sky”, Domicile, Taipei, Taiwan


“Between Art and Life”, Paint House, Tainan, Taiwan







“Kau-Puê, Mutual Companionship in Near Future: 2017 Soulangh International Contemporary Art Festival”, Soulangh Cultural Park, Tainan, Taiwan


“If it be your will That I speak no more”, ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan


Aichi Triennale 2016: “Homo Faber: A Rainbow Caravan", Aichi Arts Center,


Nagoya City Art Museum, Nagoya city, Toyohashi city, Okazaki city, Japan


"Delayed", NHCUE ART SPACE, Hsinchu, Taiwan


"Untitled", ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan




 80 Days Across America


“Utopias and Heterotopias—Wuzhen International Contemporary Art Exhibition”,


Wuzhen Northern Silk Factory, Zhejiang, China




Nanjing, China


"At" Lai Chih-Sheng & Lee Kit, Project Fulfill Art Space, Taipei, Taiwan


The 13th Biennale de Lyon: “La vie Moderne", Lyon Museum of Contemporary


Art, Lyon, France


"Alice's Rabbit Hole–Everyday Life, Comprehensible and Incomprehensible",


Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, Taiwan


"Abstract on-site", ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan


“A Hundred Years of Shame—Songs of Resistance and Scenarios for Chinese Nations”, Para Site, Hong Kong, China


“The Pioneers of Taiwanese Artists, 1971-1980”, National Taiwan Museum of


Fine Arts, Taichung, Taiwan


“Bloom” ESLITE GALLERY 25th Anniversary Exhibition, ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan


“YES, TAIWAN—2014 Taiwan Biennial”, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung, Taiwan


“Art for Oneself”, TKG+, Taipei, Taiwan


The 8th Shenzhen Sculpture Biennale: “We Have Never Participated”,


Shenzhen OCT Contemporary Art Terminal, Shenzhen, China


“Margin Archive & Film Fest”, ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan


“Transcoding: The Grography of Digital Images”, National Taiwan Museum of


Fine Arts, Taichung, Taiwan




“Mind on Forms”, Mobile Museum, Taipei, Taiwan


“Asia Cruise—Evidence”, Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts, Taipei, Taiwan


“Drawing·Expression and Limit”, AMNUA, Nanjing, China


“Invisible: Art of the Unseen 1957-2012”, Hayward Gallery, London, UK


“The 2nd Chongqing Biennale for Young Artists”, Chongqing Art Museum,


Chongqing, China


“The 2011 Material Language—Soil”, Juming Museum, Taipei, Taiwan


“Micro-Image”, Ping Pong Art Space, Taipei; Paint House, Tainan, Taiwan




“Ctrl Z”, inFIDI space, Taipei, Taiwan


“A Realm with No Coordinates”, Hong Kong, China / Taipei, Tainan, Taiwan


“Every Time”, Nanhai Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan


“Taipei Arts Award”, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, Taiwan


“1st Tainan Biennial”, Tainan Municipal Cultural Center, Tainan, Taiwan


“Cross-cultural Project in Asia”, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia / Taipei, Chiayi,


Taiwan / Hong Kong, Beijing, China


“1st Taiwan Contemporary Sculpture Exhibition”, Huashan Culture Park, Taipei, Taiwan


“Nation Oxygen Group Exhibition Part I”, Bali Abandoned House, Taipei, Taiwan


“Nation Oxygen Group Exhibition Part II”, Shin Leh Yuan Art Space, Taipei, Taiwan


“Island, Penghu, Nation Oxygen”, Penghu Islands, Taiwan


“Interactive Experiment”, Shanchi Abandoned Factory, Taipei, Taiwan







Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris, France

As an Exception to Reality: An Act of Writing Related to "Zuowei yizhong

By Chin Ya-chun

In the product of writing you are currently reading, I hope to offer an observation of an artist's oeuvre. Under the
foreseeable condition that an all-inclusive survey is not possible, I would like to begin with the images that the
works evoked, sometimes time and again, in my mind. In fact, their appearance or recurrence has led to their being
interpreted as the common attributes of the works, but it is not only because they stand out from the elements
of the works, but also because they make every encounter with the works, regarded as either ordinary or artistic,
extraordinary. As a result, the images also become my habitual route to approach and examine these (and even the
other) works.

First of all, most of the works originate from the artist's consciousness with the everyday life / the world, which is
specifically the product of his examination of his daily experiences in a position outside of himself. This persistent
gaze comes primarily from one of his identities coexisting with another identity in the physical reality, and it is this
identity, premised on another identity in the reality and hence scarcely involving any goal in the reality, that calls his
attention to the sparkles in the daily experiences generally considered to be ordinary and mediocre. It is also this
identity that triggers a series of attempts to transform personal perceptions into the content perceivable to others.

Second, these works are mostly executed by the artist's own skills. Despite that certain historical shifts have
rendered almost every skill applicable or adaptable to the practice of art, the skills employed in the works are exactly
those the artist uses for his livelihood. To meet the strict demand of reality (and perhaps a certain moral code), they
are cultivated into bodily capabilities most appropriate for realizing his ideas.

If one's consciousness of the outside world is an outward measurement, executing works through one's body is
close to being an inward measurement, which explores and refines one's talent, and constantly strives to expand its
terrain. In all of these practices, the presumably unique body is taken as both a tool of measurement and the target
of that measurement, and the eventual goal of the practices of unforeseeable consequence is the yet to be affirmed
or established uniqueness.

Finally, the above attributes converge to introduce another attribute. Drawing on the images we personally
witness in daily life, the works adopt a foreign yet inviting posture for communication among the art forms we are
accustomed to and take for granted, and begin to address abstract content devoid of narrative. Any message that
we acquire from them, therefore, seems to be generated by our own consciousness, instead of being built-in results
ready to be disclosed.

This attribute enables the individual practices to embody the ways to confront or escape from the reality (as well
as the art world increasingly resembling it) in perceivable forms, while encouraging similar practices from others,
especially when they do occur in the everyday reality.

As it is foreseeable that an all-inclusive survey of the artist's oeuvre is impossible, and as it will definitely be more
valuable to really encounter, if possible, his past or future practices, I suppose it may be a fine choice to continue my
discussion from only one of the artist's works.

"Reality in the Sky II" and others
As long as they are not "Untitled" or suggest no more than a chronological order, the titles of (art)works are usually
of equal importance to the works themselves. Functioning as the captions of photographs, they supplement or
point towards the intended interpretation of the works with ostensibly open content.

Since the work is titled "Reality in the Sky II," there should be a predecessor strongly related to it. Much more than
that, as one summons its existence in its only possible form of a legend or a story, it also demonstrates how it is
possible for two stridently different expressions to convey virtually identical discourse.

The 2004 "Reality in the Sky," taken place in an apartment rented specifically for this art project, was exhibited in the
artist's bedroom, a space perhaps newly arranged for the public display. Its simple colors and furniture seem to be
deliberately chosen, but the interior looks quite ordinary; the only extraordinary thing is the moving images floating
slightly above our heads. Under scrutiny, the images largely composed of scenes on and around heavily trafficked
streets are just as ordinary as the space they occupy. The nonetheless far-from-ordinary situation immediately
prompts one to seek the source of images -- usually a perfectly concealed projector. And when the effort is
eventually proved futile, the phenomenon advances in unresolved suspense is established as being a spectacle.
However startling the seemingly uncommon phenomenon may be, it is in fact as commonplace as the space or the
endlessly flowing images are. On the side of the bedroom facing the street, the artist built a new wall, and carefully
left a hole at the center of the cement structure blocking out all the light. As a consequence of the principle of the
camera obscura (found and made full use of long ago), whenever the interior lights are switched off, the images of
the exterior world filtered through the hole suffuse the 'sky' of the place instantly.

This fantastic experience to the spectators is produced in an environment of the physical reality, executed by
the skills of the physical reality, and realized in a living space of the physical reality. A comparatively thorough
understanding of the work is achieved through the video record apparently incapable of representing the history
of the experience. After the installation was completed, the artist had lived (as he did in the physical reality) in the
room for three months, during which the two realities coexisted / juxtaposed -- the external reality that most of
the time we can only experience the arbitrariness of its sequential progress, and the internal reality substantiated
as a result of our consciousness with and response to the external reality, in a probably extremely cramped space.
However, it is in light of the latter that we make out our condition in the world from which we can never abstain
ourselves yet in which we may not be helplessly impotent.

If what "Reality in the Sky" intends is to mobilize the spectators' consciousness by imparting experiences in the
physical time and space, "Reality in the Sky II" wrests control of the consciousness by producing readings of images.
Instead of offering a reflexive position in the physical space, the fast-moving swirl of images in their most charming
moments entices us to identify with or succumb to the photographer's perspective entirely. As this happens, the
physical position we adopt in relation to the images is canceled, and we become, as it were, the subjects of the
unknown journey.

The alien yet familiar images are disconcerting since the beginning, but their rapid movement deprives us of all
choices except to pick up the sense of strangeness they instantaneously leave behind. They are alien because
they derive from a nearly impossible horizon of vision -- as the continuation of the artist's body, the (upside-down)
camera bound to the bottom of a car gazes at the artist's daily course of shuttling between his house and studio.

Much as the ground closing in on us is visually threatening, the images present a wonder world unfolding infinitely
before our eyes. The city apparatus suspended grotesquely in the sky incessantly lashes out astonishing images on
us, and their origin is nothing more than the course of a day that most of us experience too unwittingly to recollect
its progress. Either we understand it or are told of the truth, our realization would not lessen the visual impact, for
it stems from our habitual perception which can never be radically adjusted. And it is precisely in the repeated
frustration to re-adjust ourselves that we successfully summon back a body attempting to live and feel every
moment of his life in full.

Either "Reality in the Sky," "Reality in the Sky II," or the works preceding or following them, implies an acting
subject employing his bodily skills as a means to perceive the world containing them and attempting to pinpoint
his perceptions through the practice of art. The (art) production arising from the attempts, therefore, form an
interface capable of enacting a reversal of the production, on which the experiences seemingly exceptional
to yet simultaneously acknowledging of its perpetual attachment to the reality brings to the fore the hitherto
unimaginable possibilities of ourselves and the reality of which we are a part.

Before bringing the act of writing to closure, I must confess my frustration of being incapable of describing or
discussing "Reality in the Sky, "Reality in the Sky II," or even the works preceding or following them. The principal
reason is not that I have never been personally present in where they occurred or were displayed. As a matter of
fact, in terms of listening to or apprehending the disclosure of works, presence is neither absolutely required nor
particularly advantageous.

To use an analogy, it is vaguely like having a dream. You have genuine experiences in the dream, genuine in the
sense both that they are poignantly felt by your body, and that whatever is perceived does not diverge from the
world you live in. However, loaded with a strong dose of strangeness, the familiar scenes greatly panicked you,
as if you are suddenly assaulted in a supposedly safe place. The imprint on your body is so sharp that it has not
evaporated until you finally detach yourself, upon awakening, to resume the vantage point of observation, not
without a desire to recount the peculiar dream. But how do you represent the virtual experiences unfolding
both synchronically with countless details and diachronically in a sequential fashion? To me at least, the urgency
immediately poses question to language as satisfactory tool of representation.

Somewhat absurdly, my subjects of the task destined to proceed with a haunting sense of frustration are precisely
those having fulfilled the task vigorously. On that account, the only support or encouragement to my act of writing
may be that, at all events, the works bound to cling to space, time, or any other vehicles have their unattainable


2017        "Between Dog and Wolf", ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan

2015        "Scene", ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan

2013        "LAI Chih-Sheng: Instant", PROJECT ONE, Hong Kong, China
2011        "An Exception to Reality: LAI Chih-Sheng", ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan



2014        "Bloom: ESLITE GALLERY 25th Anniversary", ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
               "Margin Archive & Film Fest", ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan

2009        "LOOKING UP! LOOKING DOWN!", ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan

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