Taiwanese artist Hung Hsin-Fu brings centuries-old tradition to new life at CIBC LunarFest

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      When Hung Hsin-Fu is given a piece of paper, he sees more than just a flat, thin sheet. He sees a bird ready to take flight, a ferocious tiger’s head, and even a majestic sperm whale. Hung lets his imagination take over and sees an ocean of opportunity.

      “When I look at the piece of paper, I feel like it gives me a guide for what to do with it,” Hung told the Georgia Straight from his studio in Taiwan. “I feel like using paper has a lot of meaning, and this meaning can only be made by using paper. Its creation is completely dependent on the piece of paper.”

      Hung’s paper art will be featured in the lantern aquarium at this year’s CIBC LunarFest, taking place at the Vancouver Art Gallery plaza from today (February 3) to February 13. His fascination with animals and his concern for the environment are ideal for the installation’s Ocean Heart theme. Hung has created an entire sculpture exhibit made solely from paper. Each piece of illuminated art is created using a single sheet of recyclable synthetic paper, a waterproof, environmentally friendly material made in Taiwan that does not release chemicals if burned and could potentially replace traditional wood-pulp-based paper.

      Like origami in Japan, paper art has been a part of Taiwan’s culture since the sixth century AD. Hung hopes to continue this tradition and enjoys sharing the art of snipping, folding, and shaping paper into imaginative objects with Taiwan’s next generations, teaching both child and adult classes at schools and clubs. “I looked at what has been done in history and then created my own pieces based on that. I hope to inspire others to do the same,” he said.

      When Hung developed his skills in paper art, it was not through lessons with a teacher. Instead, he developed his childhood pastime by taking classes in other art forms, such as drawing, painting, and sculpting. “I taught myself just out of my own special interest, so when I learned, I didn’t follow a particular way,” Hung said. “I was open to many different things and many different directions in art. I dedicated quite a lot of time learning all different types of art.”

      As for the pieces on display at LunarFest, those also took the perfection-seeking artist a considerable amount of time. “It took me quite a long time because every time I would work on it, I would not be satisfied and I would have to redo it and continually fix it until I was happy,” he said. “Or I would have to start again and rethink it.”



      Charlie Wu of the Asian-Canadian Special Events Association speaks about Hung Hsin-Fu's paper sculpture of a whale.


      Now that his underwater kingdom in complete, Hung is preparing for a trip to Vancouver to see his art, as well as other artists’ works, on display. “I’m excited to come to look at art and see different things. I am hoping this will give me inspiration for the future.”