• Joanne Hsieh (MissyChiao)

瞧瞧藝術 ChiaoxArt|想像力過剩的怪誕世界:駐紐約臺灣藝術家曾采翎

A Grotesquely Imaginative and Bizarre World- An Interview with New York Based Taiwanese Artist Tsai-ling Tseng


採訪編輯 Editor|謝蕎安 Joanne Hsieh

翻譯 Translation by | Joyce Lee

圖 Image courtesy|曾采翎 Tsailing Tseng 提供

Brooklyn, New York 紐約布魯克林


Q:采翎你好,可以簡單⾃我介紹嗎? 例如:你來⾃的城市,你⽬前居住的城市,以及這些地⽅你會推薦遊客哪些⾃⼰最喜歡的景點、美術館或活動?

Hi Tsailing, can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from and where are you currently based at? What are some places you'd recommend for visitors?


采翎:「我來⾃台北,我很幸運可以住在紐約。我很喜歡去大都會博物館,紐約當代美術館, PS1,Whitney、New Museum看博物館推出的新展覽,還有在Lower East Side、Chinatown、Tribeca及Chelsea 看各式各樣的畫廊展覽。我也很推薦花⼀天的時間去 Dia Beacon 走走,跟紐約市相比那裡安靜很多,有完全不⼀樣的感覺。」

Hi, I am from Taipei. I am fortunate to live in New York. I really enjoy seeing art exhibitions in New York. Met, Moma PS1, Whitney and New Museums always have really great programs. I also really like to walk around in Lower East Side, Chinatown, Tribeca and Chelsea to see gallery shows. I would also recommend taking a day trip to Dia Beacon. It is much quieter and has a totally different visual experience in comparison to NYC.

Q:可以形容你的⼯作室或⼯作環境嗎?你在哪裡創作大型作品?

What is your work or studio situation currently? Where do you paint your large scale pieces?

采翎:「我很幸運跟我⼀位藝術家好友可以在Bushwick/East Williamsburg的⼀棟老建築共租⼀間⼯作 室,我們這層樓的前排是藝術品裱框公司,常常可以看到很厲害的畫作在這棟樓進進出出。」

I am really lucky to share a studio with a close artist friend in an old building in Bushwick / East Williamsburg. The front side of our studio floor is an artist frame shop, there are so many masterpieces coming in and out of our hallway all the time.


Q:你希望觀者從你的創作中得到什麼?(在沒有任何了解之下的第⼀印象)

What do you want the viewer to take away from your painting (through a cold read)?

采翎:「我希望傳達故事給我的觀者。這個故事通常是透過扭曲的⾃畫像在顏⾊鮮豔和油畫質感厚重的想像情境裡,做不符合邏輯的⾏為。我經由這些強烈的視覺效果吸引觀眾的注意⼒及好奇⼼,引誘觀者卸下防備⼼,走入我作品的核⼼:⾃我批評、反諷情緒發洩,以及探討社會議題。」

My hope is to convey stories to the viewers. The stories are usually built from distorted self-portraits in colorful and textural worlds, doing illogical things. I employ fantastical visual effects to attract the viewers’ attention and curiosity and to lure them into the core of my paintings, which is self-critical, sarcastic, and socially relevant.


最困難也最好玩的挑戰是如何⾃由靈活地將我的想像⼒及⾃⾝⽣活體驗連結

Q:你的創作中最在意的題材是什麼? 你在作品中用富有想像力的畫面帶出社會議題。你希望藉此達到什麼目的?

What’s something you care the most about in your paintings? Your works bring up social issues through imaginative imagery. What do you hope to accomplish through this approach?

采翎:「最困難也最好玩的挑戰是如何⾃由靈活地將我的想像⼒及⾃⾝⽣活體驗連結,創造看似無害的荒唐世界,並以反諷詼諧的語氣挑戰觀眾正視當今社會存在的問題。例如《Minor Feelings》 裡,中間這位有很多食物的女⼈正在吃著香蕉,背後的⼩女⽣瘦巴巴地拍著女⼈的⼿臂想要乞討分食。表⾯來說這是⼀個資源分配不均衡的現象。另⼀個⾓度來說,我藉由這個塗著⼤紅⼝紅、眼妝花掉、張嘴吃香蕉的女⼈描繪男性視⾓下的⼝交,表達亞洲女性總在⻄⽅世界被刻板印象定義成被動、聽話、順從的⾓⾊。強迫觀者聯想且正視⻄⽅社會長期物化亞裔女性的社會議題。這張畫的標題是借⽤韓裔美籍作家Cathy Park Hong去年剛出版的《Minor Feelings》這本書。」

The most difficult and fun challenge in my practice is to combine my imagination with personal observations and encounters freely and creatively, in order to create a seemingly innocent and bizarre world. My goal is to challenge the viewers to face the current existing social problems through a sarcastic and humorous lens. For example, Minor Feelings, 2020, on the surface, is a criticism about consumption: a woman eating from a pile of bananas, while a skinny girl behind her begs for food. However, I also tried to present the straight male perspective of fellatio by illustrating an Asian woman eating a banana with red lipstick and smeared eye make-up. I hope to force the viewers to face the long-term western fetishization and objectification of Asian females. This painting’s title is directly borrowed from the Korean-American author Cathy Park Hong’s book, Minor Feelings.


Q:你作品中這些半⼈半獸的個體是誰?他們都呈現在驚訝與沈思兩個相反的情緒裡⾯,我覺得 很有趣,你可以解釋他們的這種情緒嗎?

Who are these half-human, half-beast figures in your paintings? They always seem to be between a polarizing state of shock and daze, which is really interesting to me. Can you elaborate on that?


采翎:「我作品裡的⾓⾊⼤部分都是我⾃畫像的延伸。半⼈半獸是因為很多時候我的想像⼒起源於動物特性。例如《The Death of Knowledge/ Monkey Brain Table》這張畫的靈感起源於中國某些地區吃猴腦的風俗。畫中央頭腦被剖開的半⼈半猴⾓⾊卡在餐桌中間,發呆等著被⼈吃。我想暗諷中國共產黨對於⽂化審查制度⽽影響到華語國家的⾃由知識新聞。我藉由畫中半⼈半猴無奈的放空神情表達⾝為⼀個台灣⼈看⾒我的國家台灣⾯對中國政治脅迫的無奈, 以及中國摧殘香港、新疆、⻄藏與蒙古等地的⾃由⺠主⽂化語⾔。」

Most of the characters in my paintings are extensions of my self-portraits. They often seem half-human, half-beast because a lot of the times my imagination is inspired by animal instincts. For example, The Death of Knowledge/ Monkey Brain Table, 2020 is inspired by a regional Chinese tradition of consuming raw monkey brains. I present an open-skulled, half-human, half-monkey figure in the center of this painting. She is waiting to be served as a dish. It’s a metaphor critiquing the Chinese Communist Party’s censorship, which disturbed mandarin speaking countries’ freedom of information and news. I want to use the figure’s dazed eyes to express that as Taiwanese, I feel helpless when seeing my country threatened by China, and the cruel damage China does to sovereign/autonomous regions such as Hong Kong, Tibet, Xinjiang, and Inner Mongolia.


我從Goya的版畫裡學到如何為我的⾓⾊們架構⼀個可信的想像世界
Seven Creatures in My Heart, oil on canvas

Q:你的⽤⾊非常獨特,像是《我心中的七個生物》中的霓虹⾊和濁⾊的搭配。請問你是如何選擇這些⾊盤?這些顏色的意義為何?或者你是完全根據直覺來選擇?

Pieces like Seven Creatures in My Heart, 2021, use bright neon colors and the muddy browns, which are a very unique palette. How do you choose your colors and what is their significance? Or are they choices based purely on intuition?


采翎:「近期的作品裡,我刻意選⽤螢光黃或檸檬黃當成⾃畫像女主⾓的膚⾊,⽤來凸顯亞洲⼈被稱為黃種⼈這種說法。通常我把顏⾊當成⼀種⼯具,在顏⾊互相融合搭配之後所產⽣的光是我繪畫的重點。黃⾊是光的顏⾊,光⼜是⼤部分的觀眾最容易注意到的地⽅,這讓我可以藉此操縱觀眾的注意⼒集中在畫中的發光體——⼀個平常⼤家不會注意到的亞洲女⽣⾝上。」

In my recent work, I intentionally chose neon yellow or lemon yellow as the skin color of my main female self-portrait characters in order to highlight that Asian people are often called Yellow People. I use colors as tools to create lights in my paintings. Yellow is the color of light. Light is the focal point for a majority of viewers. I want to use this advantage to manipulate the viewer’s attention to the glowing objects in my paintings, such as to an Asian girl that people would usually neglect.


Q:你的美感來源包括哪些?比⽅你的筆觸、構圖、意象來⾃哪裡,以及為什麼?

What inspires your aesthetic choices, such as brush marks, composition, colors, and imagery?


采翎:「對我⽽⾔,構圖是在尋找說故事的⾓度和⽀架。在開始油畫以前,我會對⼀個主題做很多相關的鉛筆構圖。當我找到⼀個認為最合適的視⾓,我會進⼀步定位⾓⾊們在構圖裡存在的空間。我從Goya的版畫裡學到如何為我的⾓⾊們架構⼀個可信的想像世界,並透過空間更⽣動我的故事。」

For me, composition means finding angles and structures for my narratives. Before jumping into oil paint, I make a lot of sketches for a specific idea that I want to convey. When I find the most suitable perspective, I then start to figure out the space around my characters. Goya’s prints influence me a lot on building a rigorous composition to activate my characters in a believable imaginative surrounding.


Lost and Found, oil on canvas

「我受到Judith Linhares的影響很⼤,尤其是她作品中對筆觸⼤⼩、⽅向及流動性的理解。在 我創作的過程中,很多時候油畫被我畫得太死太緊,這時候就會想起Judith Linhares對筆觸的這些概念,是讓我的作品起死回⽣最好的⼯具。 意象或者⼈物的特質是最好玩也最靠直覺的地⽅。對我來說意象是⼀張圖開始的起點。⼩時候看了很多⽇本動畫,宮崎駿的神隱少女和魔法公主以及⾼橋留美⼦的⽝夜叉都影響了我對⼈物特質描繪的美感和想像⼒。」

As for the brushstrokes, I am influenced by artist Judith Linhares whose works are a masterclass in making conscious decisions about the function of large and small brushes, and the direction and the fluency of the brushstrokes used to convey a feeling or a message. In my painting process, many times I rely on these concepts to loosen up or to "rescue" the works that I pushed too far and made too tight. The most intuitive part of my work is the imagery. For me, it’s the beginning of a painting. I watched a lot of Japanese anime when I was a kid. Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke, Kiki's Delivery Service and Rumiko Takahashi’s Inuyasha play big roles on my aesthetic choices and imagery.


Q:你最喜歡哪⼀位藝術家的系列創作?

What’s your favorite body of work created by another artist?

采翎:「我很喜歡 Martin Wong 1980年代的紐約房屋磚塊的作品系列。」

I love Martin Wong’s city paintings from the 1980s.


⽤圖像故事表達出⽂字說不出來的情緒
Yellow Junk, Oil on canvas

Q:請問你如何成為一位職業藝術家?

What was your path to becoming a professional artist?


采翎:「⼩時候國⼩老師跟我媽說我沒有繪畫天份還是以課業為重比較保險,但我還是吵著我媽幫我報名美術班考試,結果去考了沒有過。所以在台灣我18歲前都對繪畫沒有⾃信,覺得畫畫對我來說是⼀件不太可能的事情。 」

I always thought art was an impossible thing for me to do when I was in Taiwan. When I was a kid, my elementary school teacher told my mom I had no talent, and that it would be better for me to focus on my academics. I still begged my mom to let me take an art entrance exam for the art middle school in Taiwan, but I wasn’t accepted. In middle school and high school, I had an inferiority complex when it came to my art.

「⼀直到我18歲去美國UCSD 讀書,因為英⽂不好上課很多都聽不懂,跟⼈交流⼜有很多⽂化衝極,挫折感很⼤。有⼀次意外經過聖地牙哥的連鎖畫材店 (Artist and Craftsman Supply) , 去裡⾯逛了好久,拿零⽤錢買了⼀些畫材。整天窩在我的房間畫畫、不去管⽣活中的責任。這段時間對我很重要,每天⾃⼰對著畫布把⼼情想法投射到各種想像世界裡,⽤圖像故事表達出⽂字說不出來的情緒。在獨處的環境下發現以前跟別⼈比較誰畫的比較好的那種挫折感都變得很沒意義,靜下⼼來才正視到我真的很喜歡繪畫。接著⿎起勇氣申請紐約視覺藝術⼤學(SVA)插畫系,去讀了⼀年轉成藝術系,接著到了芝加哥藝術⼤學(SAIC)完成MFA in paintings and drawings Program。之後我搬到了紐約,從紐約的藝術環境及與藝術家們的交流上,學到各式各樣可以豐富我作品的元素。 」

Then I went to the States to study structural engineering in UCSD when I was 18. I had a hard time understanding English in my classes and readings and felt defeated. The culture shock was difficult and I struggled to make friends during that time. One day I passed by a local art supply store in San Diego, and felt drawn to the materials. I bought art supplies with my allowance and then stayed in my room painting ignoring other responsibilities. That was a really formative period of time for me. I began to project my feelings and emotions onto canvases and forgot about the frustration I encountered in the outside world. I stopped comparing myself to others and fell in love with painting for the first time. I then applied to SVA illustration major and transferred to fine arts after the foundation year. I attended to SAIC to pursue my MFA in paintings and drawings. The education never stops though. Since, I have immersed myself in New York’s art scene and constantly exchange ideas with other artists which enriches my work in so many ways.


Q:你最喜歡的藝術家或是作家包括?

Can you name some of your favorite writers, artists?


采翎:「我很喜歡藝術史裡的William Blake、Leonora Carrington、Marc Chagall、Frida Kahlo、 Titian,以及 Goya。當代藝術裡,我受到Judith Linhares、Tala Madani、Nicole Eisenman、 Rosa Loy、Lynette Yiadom-Boakye 和 Maria Lassnig的影響很深。」

I look up a lot to historical artists like William Blake, Leonora Carrington, Marc Chagall, Frida Kahlo, Titian, and Goya. I am very inspired by contemporary painters like Judith Linhares, Tala Madani, Nicole Eisenman, Rosa Loy, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye and Maria Lassnig.


我很喜歡把自身⽣活經驗跟想像⼒帶入我的創作
Yellow Girl, oil on canvas, 2020

Q:去年的疫情讓全世界都受到極⼤衝擊,包括紐約。這對你的創作(和⽣活)造成哪些影響?

Covid-19 has made such huge impacts on all aspects of our lives, with NYC being one of the most devastated cities, how has this impacted on your work and life?


采翎:「⾝為⼀位亞洲女性住在美國,疫情對我有兩⽅⾯的衝擊。除了對疫情的恐慌之外,我走在布魯克林熟悉的街道上受到不少以前在類似的街坊不曾遇過的種族辱罵。⾄於創作⽅⾯,⼀開始疫情爆發太多事需要時間消化,所以創作停了⼤概兩個⽉的時間。以前我總是隨機在畫布上發想,在油畫的過程中慢慢找到⼈物故事。但因為 lockdown 不能去⼯ 作室,我在家裡開始用⾊鉛筆和⾺克筆作畫。之後把這些在家的創作帶入⼯作室裡,才發現這些練習對我在油畫中尋找⾊塊、光、以及敘事的幫助很⼤。所以我開始把這個過程帶到我準備油畫前的程序,讓我更精準地表達我想闡述的故事,也省去很多顏料費和時間。」

As an Asian woman living in America, the impact of the outbreak of COVID-19 has been two fold. Besides the personal fear of the pandemic, I have battled racial slurs several times in my familiar neighborhood of Brooklyn, something that I hadn’t experienced there before. In terms of the artistic practice, I stopped making art for almost two months just because I needed time to process what was going on in the world. Before the pandemic, I used to start a painting without a plan, then found figures and stories in the process of making. However, because of the lockdown, I couldn’t go to my studio, so I turned to drawing at home. I made colored pencil and marker studies on paper. Later when I brought those studies to my studio, I realized I was finding shapes, sharper narratives, colors and lights for my oil paintings. I think by adding this practice to my painting preparation, it definitely helped me to be more clear head about my narrative, and saved a lot of the material cost and time.



Q:你的孩提時代最喜歡哪些活動?這和你現在的創作有關聯嗎?

What was your favorite activity as a child and does it have any impact on your work as an artist today?

采翎:「我⼩時候最喜歡躲在房間看各種繪本故事和⼩說。我很享受頭腦在想像世界裡的感覺。這跟我現在的創作有很⼤的連結。不同的是,⼩時候是在頭腦裡想像別⼈的故事情節,現在是⾃⼰編故事在畫布上畫出我的想像世界。」

When I was a kid, I loved to hide in my room and read all kinds of illustration books, stories and fictions. I enjoyed the feeling that my brain was in the imaginative world. I can see the connection with my current art practice. The difference is that I was imagining other people’s stories in my childhood, but now I am creating my own stories and transferring them onto a canvas.


Q: 讓你⼀直持續創作的動⼒是?

What motivates you to keep painting?


采翎:「我很喜歡把我的⽣活經驗跟想像⼒帶入我的創作,也很享受在創作的過程中實驗不同技巧、 遇到困難尋找解決⽅式的挑戰感。」

I love bringing the figments of my imagination to life and experimenting with different techniques. I enjoy getting lost in my pieces.


Q:遇到瓶頸時你會怎麼做?

What do you do when running into a creative block?


采翎:「遇到瓶頸的時候我會開始打掃⼯作室,或者做很多跟藝術不相⼲的事情,讓⾃⼰頭腦放空。我也會重新翻閱以前的筆記本或者作品集重新審視沒有⽤過或者不是很理想的靈感及舊作品,從舊問題裡找新的解決⽅法。」

When I run into creative blocks, I usually do a deep cleaning for my studio, or do something unrelated to art making to keep myself from overthinking. Or I would go over the old sketchbooks or older works, re-exam the old ideas or unsuccessful older works to find new solutions from the old problems.


Q:⾝為亞裔女性藝術家,你遭遇過哪些挑戰?

What kind of challenges you’ve been presented, as a female Asian artist living and working in NYC?

采翎:「最⼤的挑戰是主流藝術史上很少有關亞裔女性藝術家的論述,這讓⾝為台灣女性在美國做藝術的我很沒有安全感,會經常懷疑⾃⼰種族⾝份在藝術上的重要性,怕⾃⼰講出來的政治立場是⼩題⼤做,所以在我早期作品裡會想盡辦法避開需要談論台裔女性藝術家在藝術社會政治種族等議題的機會。那段時間我刻意避開⾃畫像,以半抽象的動物怪物形式來呈現我的情緒和想法,把我的作品保留在⼀個超離現實的烏托邦想像世界。直到在紐約的⼯作室創作⼀系列⾃畫像為主的作品,並開始和各種亞裔移⺠藝術家交流,才逐漸在作品裡表達出⾝為亞裔女性藝術家的⾃我懷疑和挫折。」

The biggest challenge is that there are very few Asian female artists mentioned and discussed in mainstream art history. This void creates doubts about the critical importance of my personal voice and political stance. For this reason, my earlier works avoided the opportunity to have conversations about social and political events, and race issues that are related to my Taiwanese female identity. I used to avoid self-portraits and instead used half-abstract animals and monsters to express my feelings and emotions, intentionally preserving my work in a surreal, utopian imaginative world. It wasn’t until I moved to New York after I graduated from SAIC, made my first series of self-portraits and interacted with different Asian immigrant artists, that my work started to express my identity, self-doubts and frustrations as an Asian female artist.



Q:可以推薦我們⼀部紀錄片或書籍嗎?

Can you recommend us a documentary or a book(s)?


采翎:「三島由紀夫的《⾦閣寺》、《The Earthsea Cycle》 ,作者Ursula Le Guin、《The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House》 ,作者Audre Lorde,以及去年出版的 《minor feelings》, 作者 Cathy Park Hong 。最近因為朋友介紹,準備看《Why Asia?: Essays on Contemporary Asian and Asian American Art》,是由⼀位台裔美籍藝術史及策展人 Alice Huei-Zu Yang 所著作。紀錄片我比較少看,但我很喜歡台灣導演楊德昌的《⼀⼀》、《牯嶺街少年殺⼈事件》還有侯孝賢的《悲情城市》。」

I am not too familiar with the documentaries, but I really love Taiwanese film director Edward Yang’s movies such as Yi Yi and A Brighter Summer Day. Also another Taiwanese film director, Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s A City of Sadness. In terms of the books, The Temple of the Golden Pavilion by Yukio Mishima, The Earthsea Cycle by Ursula Le Guin, The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House by Audre Lorde, and Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong. Also a friend of mine just recommended Why Asia?: Essays on Contemporary Asian and Asian American Art by art historian and curator Alice Huei-Zu Yang. I just got the book and is very excited to read it!


Q:除了目前的成就之外,你還有哪些短期和長期的⽬標?

What are some short- and long-term goals that you would like to add to your accomplishments?


采翎:「短期我會計畫回台灣⽣活和創作半年,今年五⽉底會在台北的濕地Venue有⼀個pop-up show和⼀個壁畫的project。短期內我希望能夠在台灣更積極找到展出機會,融合更多台灣社會⽂化元素到我的作品裡,也希望得到更多機會和台灣觀者交流。長期⽬標是希望能夠維持我對繪畫的喜愛,可以⼀直穩定創作、進步。 」

My short term goal is to be more proactive to find some exhibition opportunities in Taiwan. I think it’s very important to incorporate more Taiwanese cultural and political elements to my work, and to exchange ideas and feedbacks with Taiwanese viewers. I plan to live and work in Taiwan for half of a year. In late May, I will have a pop up show in an exhibition space called Venue in Taipei and will make a mural for the space. My long term goal is to keep my passion about art, have a steady studio practice and keep pushing myself to make better work.


曾采翎 (b. 1991))是一位來自台灣的藝術家,活躍於美國以及國際藝壇。過去三年曾采翎在布魯克林的藝術圈中耕耘,並有一系列即將到來的展覽,包含倫敦 Leibe Gallery藝廊的 Cave Canem 群展、芝加哥 Goldfinch Flatfiles 群展、紐約 Klaus von Nichtssagend 藝廊的 Paint School Exhibition 群展、以及台北的濕地 Venue快閃展覽等等。曾采翎也曾在許多知名藝廊和展覽中展出,像是芝加哥EXPO CHICAGO國際當代和現代藝術展、首爾LVS Project Gallery藝廊的ASYAAF群展、雅典的ART ATHINA國際當代藝術博覽會、長島市的 LIC Arts Open 群展、布魯克林的 Greenpoint Open Studios 群展、GEORGE Gallery 群展、紐約 SVA Chelsea Gallery 的群展 LinkedIn、以及紐約的 Space 776 Gallery、the Barret Art Center、和 The Plaxall Gallery 等等。

Tsai-Ling Tseng is a Taiwanese artist who has established herself as a promising artist in the United States and internationally. She has spent the past three years immersing herself in the art scene in Brooklyn and has upcoming exhibitions, such as Cave Canem at Eve Leibe Gallery in London; Goldfinch Flatfiles in Chicago; Paint School Exhibition at Klaus von Nichtssagend gallery in New York; and Venue Space in Taipei to name a few. Ms. Tseng’s works have been widely exhibited at prominent galleries and exhibitions such as EXPO CHICAGO: The International Exposition of Contemporary & Modern Art, ASYAAF presented at the LVS Project Gallery, ART ATHINA, the LIC Arts Open, Greenpoint Open Studios, GEORGE Gallery, the SVA Chelsea Gallery’s LinkedIn: From Photography, to Painting, to Sculpture and New Media, Space 776 Gallery, the Barret Art Center, The Plaxall Gallery and numerous others.



特別感謝曾采翎

Special thanks to Tsai-ling Tseng


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