The painter’s gaze and hand are loving, are desirous. There is pleasure and there is pain within the one who observes, and the ones being observed. True observation seeks honesty, and seeking honesty is a search for freedom. Brook is honest. To the bone.
Pre-painting, Brook Hsu draws her motives in one of the many notebooks lying around in her studio. Pencil on paper; an intimate, bordering on private gesture. Looking at Leander and his favorite horse, Jack, she meticulously translates the image received on her retina through her hand and bestows us its representation. The gray lines are devoted, unostentatious, and naïve (of which some remarkable synonyms are trustful, green, believing) and display an underlying attention to something internal within the external: a true observation, not solely of the motive in question but in the essence of what it means to represent someone or something. This is telling of Hsu’s approach to portraiture. In a variety of large-scale paintings, she’s captured both subject and their broader, complex connectivity to the world through elements of fiction and fact, language, humor, and affection. Like these, the work that the drawing lays the ground for is also reflective of painting’s history—as in its dealing with the horse motive, particularly leading my mind to Rosa Bonheur’s capturing of this animal. Hsu joyfully and painstakingly indulges in her predecessors’ making within the frames of examining her own material reality: pencil and paper, oil paint, pigment, wood, canvas. Herein lies the artists’ steady and solitary proceeding towards a way of artmaking where apprehension is all-encompassing.
The drawing of Leander and his horse holds deep infatuation and a powerful sensitivity. On top of it, I perceive a soft, transparent cover of language, speaking true paradoxes of human existence.
– Live Drønen
Photo: Cedric Mussano