Santa Barbara, CA
This story was featured in the October 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art October 2013 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
Hsin-Yao Tseng’s heart is in San Francisco. The oil painter has been living in the City By the Bay for seven years and loving every minute of it. “I’m so grateful that I chose the school I went to, Academy of Art University, and have been able to live in San Francisco all these years,” he says. “San Francisco is a beautiful place with lots of diversity.” Many of the 30 portraits, cityscapes, and figurative works in his solo show at Waterhouse Gallery in Santa Barbara are set in San Francisco. Tseng describes the show, which opens with an artist’s reception from 4 to 7 p.m. on October 5, as representing his transition from school to life as a full-time artist.
“I started planning the body of work while I was still working on my master’s degree in 2012,” he explains. “I began the paintings in 2013. Each one has its own color scheme. Some are centered around greens and blues, and others are yellowish-green or gray and muted.”
While San Francisco is depicted in a number of the works, the artist also enjoys the energy of New York City. The two New York paintings in the show—one a city scene and one a museum interior—are brand-new subject matter for Tseng. “This is the first time I’ve ever painted a museum room with a guard in it,” he adds. “It was a pretty interesting experience.”
Tseng’s figurative works in this show often feature his Bay Area friends. Four of the portraits portray one of his best female friends. Several paintings of another close friend are set at a San Francisco hat shop. “I love the inside of the store,” he says. “My friend Nicole is trying on hats in one of the paintings and wearing a new hat outside the store in another.”
In homage to the old masters and their paintings of children, several of the works depict children, including one of a child waiting for a signature from Donald Duck at Disneyland and another of children playing by a river. The recent wedding of a San Francisco friend and fashion designer inspired Tseng to paint BEFORE WEDDING, which depicts the bride sewing her dress with the help of one of her friends.
“While my subjects haven’t really changed, I’ve noticed that I’m painting looser lately,” Tseng says. “There are more layers and textures in the paint. Also, I’ve been appreciating abstract shapes a lot. When I started school in 2005, I totally couldn’t understand abstraction. One of my teachers talked about realism and that everything is relative. Then I began to understand it better.”
Waterhouse Gallery owner Diane Waterhouse refers to Tseng as one of today’s young masters. “His style is lush and rich with passion,” she says. “His work has a compelling quality that narrates a powerful, raw emotion but is beyond his years.” —Emily Van Cleve
Featured in the October 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art October 2013 print issue or digital download
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