Yeachin Tsai, Into Empty Space

Introduction by Mary Kathryn Jablonski

Whimsy is thought of as something quaint and/or fancifully odd behavior. Each of these artists’ works may seem to fit into this category at first glance, but upon considering their work more closely over time, reflect on how play is an integral part of the creative process and how “whimsy” may be a veil to deeper meaning. Play, in art and other fields such as writing, music, math, science and technology, keeps creative minds open to “accidents” and new possibilities or discoveries. What may seem random (or whimsical) often has or can lead to patterning, logic and structure. Consider the Fibonacci sequence (expressed in the pine cones, pineapples, sunflowers and more) and the Golden Ratio in nature itself. Then again, sometimes whimsy is just whimsy.

Artist Statement

My art now is swinging between the seen and unseen worlds: the seen world of objects and forms and the unseen world of energies and momentums. While growing up in Taiwan, I had the opportunity to study traditional Chinese brush painting and calligraphy with several accomplished masters and ever since, I have incorporated that training into my experiments with modern materials and idioms.

I have always been intrigued by form, pattern, and colors. My interest may have started when I was four years old. I remember seeing the floating, shining dust particles reflecting the sunlight in the stale attic air of my family’s old house. The magic quality of nowness left an unspeakable feeling in my mind. And I remembered the magical evening sky of colorful clouds just before the typhoon – the powerful tropical storm hits the little island – The translucent palace full of retinues and chariots, warriors and ministers, men and women are all in the castle of clouds.

As the youngest of the family, I often hid in that small attic to practice calligraphy (following my father’s calligraphic work), dreaming, and falling asleep by myself, until my mother searched everywhere and found me. I always loved calligraphy, the beauty of black and white simplicity. Chinese is mainly a pictorial language of the Yin and Yang principle. Each symbol has its vibrant life, form, and energy. When executing the brush strokes, I am particularly mindful and aware of the space in between. The empty space becomes a crucial component of the painting itself. The work is alive within the space of those marks and colors, imbued with the spirit of the artist who creates the work. Rather than building up on the surface of the painting, I use surfaces that soak in – canvases prepared with fiber grounds that behave like traditional rice paper, pulling the paints in. Thus, the space is infinite; just like the universe is infinite.

I want to create artwork that is primordial and timeless, ancient yet modern. Something like earth, like water, like air and all the elements. The materials are used to reflect the feelings and perceptions I have experienced in life – the ever changing, flowing moments of this chaotic yet harmonious world. The timeless moment of time, and our precious and transient existences – The cosmic, playful music that never ends.

About the Artist 

Yeachin Tsai received her BFA at the National Taiwan Normal University and her MFA at Brooklyn College, City University of New York. She is known for her rhythmic forms and decisive brush marks, made with a certainty rooted in Chinese calligraphy and the infinite time and space dynamics of Chinese painting.

She paints with layered ink, acrylic, and oil colors on paper, canvas, wood, and fabric. Yeachin generates tension with the intimate scale of smaller paintings and their colossal internal energy. Her large-scale paintings use big brushwork to draw the viewer in and then explode joyously with energetic color and invigorating mark-making. Her subjects cover both the visible (objects, patterns, symbols) and the unseen (force, emotion, momentum).

Now based in upstate New York, Yeachin has exhibited her work at such notable venues as the Painting Center in Manhattan, the New York State Museum in Albany, and the Hyde Collection, Glens Falls, NY. Her original work and design are held in private and corporate collections around the world, including in the US, Canada, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

Corporate collections include Bellagio, Las Vegas; The Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C. and Chicago; Azabu Miami Beach; Nobu Miami Beach; Hilton West Palm Beach; Hyatt Regency Orlando, Florida; Brava luxury high-rise apartment, Houston, TX; Caesars Republic, Scottsdale, AZ; The Dutch Nashville, TN; Google NYC Public Space; Rosewood Hotel, Hong Kong; Andaz Shenzhen Hotel, China; Toranomon Hills Residential Towers, Tokyo, Japan, among other renown venues.

List of Works

1. Greek Temple, acrylic on canvas, 70 x 84 in. 2020

2. Ocean Mind, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 48 in. 2023

3. Evolving Universe, acrylic on canvas, 52 x 56 in. 2023

4. Treasure Hunt in Magic Forest, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 56 in. 2023

5. London Bridge, oil on canvas, 48 x 30 in. 2022

6. Dragon’s Play, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 54 in. 2020

7. Venus Rising, acrylic on canvas, 56 x 34 in. 2018

8. Awake, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 24 in. 2021

9. The Splash of a Pool, acrylic on canvas, 26 x 23 in. 2018

10. Uncontrollable Force, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 48 in. 2017

11. Galactic Traveler, oil on canvas, 40 x 52 in. 2024

12. Dance of Universe, acrylic on canvas, 46 x 24 in. 2020