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Happy Birthday, My Dear
by Taipei Fine Arts Museum
Location: Taipei Fine Arts Museum
Artist(s): WANG Liang-yin
Date: 31 May - 20 Jul 2014

“It is usually a time when you are in the company of others, with the lights turned off, candles lit, and hands clasped together; all the sudden, everything is simply enlarged, with the past, present, and future interconnected by this magical moment.  You then finally come to the realization that you are not in the company of others; it is just you. Happy birthday, my dear.” 

Happy Birthday, My Dear is an exhibition based on the birthday cake and the wish-making ritual, as it investigates the ambiguous moment in life that intermixes together the tangible existence and the intangible void. 

The original features of desire, mobility, transformation, and metamorphosis are issues that Wang Liang-yin extendedly focuses on. Using food (desserts) as the visual carrier (or symbol) to call upon the tastes embedded in memory (or imagination), her art then further reveals the mysterious connections underneath the layers of impulses and thoughts.  

Humans cannot taste food from a distance; food must be put in the mouth and for it to seemingly become a part of the physical body. Therefore, both spiritually and physically, taste is regarded as a form of contact that is highly intimate. Because of the need to consume food, people are required to connect with the world. Desserts are probably the most direct choice to represent this form of double-enticement combing taste and touch, because desserts are able to satisfy people’s basic need and also cause emotional ups-and-downs. In the medley of cultures around the world, the taste of sweetness is always representative of feelings that are blissful and good, but looking beyond the veneer, sweets have a more straight-forward function, which is to satiate people’s extra desires after their hungers have already been fulfilled. This extra psychological need is layered and compiled with biological creatures’ primal desire, which is sometimes conflicting, sometimes complementary to each other, and this intertwining and extending relationship is what Wang’s paintings are attempting to investigate.

The spotlight of this exhibition is placed on the moment at a birthday party, when the candles are about to be blown and cakes about to be sliced and eaten. With the time and sounds congealed, and people confronted with desires, the mysterious glistening sparkles form a sense of detachment and create a moment of silence. As the “desired” object and the “desiring” subjects coexist, the ambiance of anticipation projects an independent (solitary) and an obscure sense of distance (as we do not know the true inner feelings of the person making the wish, or what s/he is really wishing for); the moment is unique due to the mixing of clarity and bewilderment.

If desserts are unnecessary for survival and are products of extra desires, then, are the unfulfilled anticipations, fantasies, and even discontentment of the wish-maker corresponding to reality or fiction? Or perhaps both? 

*image (left)
Wang Liang-Yin
Happy Birthday to Me_ Pablo, 2013
Acrylic on Canvas, 165 x 140 cm
courtesy of the artist 

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