As part of San Francisco’s ongoing beautification of the downtown area, one of Taiwan’s most acclaimed contemporary artists, Hung Yi was commissioned to create a group of large scale whimsical sculptures for San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza.
The exhibit of 19 large-scale, vividly colored animals, is spread across the Joseph L. Alioto Performing Arts Piazza on the eastern front of San Francisco City Hall. It’s already a popular photo destination, with people taking “selfies” and kids straddling the sculptures, ignoring the “do not climb” signs. Frankly, the whimsical sculptures and bright decorative surfaces are hard to resist. With names like “Money Frog” and “Triple Auspicious Sheep,” the animals reflect a different approach to sculpture – one that reflects Taiwanese popular culture and customs. “Money Frog” is Taiwan’s version of the lucky cat seen in Japanese businesses or the lucky Buddha in Chinese businesses. But, as Hung Yi explains, “Richness is a goal for all of us. But no matter how hard we work, we all look to live a better life. Money Frog is praying for everyone with blessed heart.”
Made of baked enamel on steel plate and granite, the figures are strong enough to withstand all the love thrown at them. Each sculpture is accompanied by a panel explaining the meaning – for instance, “Ox Patient” is described as a hard, patient worker, calm and grateful. The eight figures in “Animal Circus” come from folk art, with a clown standing on the top of the mountain, presenting a joyous image of Taiwan to the world.
“We are thrilled to host this exceptional artwork exhibit in the heart of our City where it can be enjoyed by residents and visitors alike,” said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. “Meaningful cultural exchanges of artwork from around the world keep San Francisco at the cutting edge of innovation and artistic expression, and we are proud to be the temporary home of the Fancy Animal Carnival.”
“These playfully contorted animals are imbued with Taiwanese cultural elements,” said Ou Hsien Cheng. producer of the exhibit here in San Francisco. “His sculptures are anthropomorphized interpretations of fauna based on the conventional semiotics of good luck and fortune. ”
“Hung Yi’s sculpture is enthusiastic and bold, and replete with the dynamism of Taiwanese culture. As innovation continues in the Taiwanese art world, Hung’s stunning creations are worthy of applause and continue to highlight classical elegance.”
“San Francisco is renowned for its public art,” says San Francisco Arts Commission Director of Cultural Affairs Tom DeCaigny. “In recent years, our Civic Center has become the stage for some of the most ambitious temporary art installations the city has ever seen by some of the world’s most celebrated artists. These installations excite locals and visitors alike and help bring economic activity to the area.”
Born in 1970, Taichung, Taiwan, Hung Yi was once an owner of nine restaurants. However, at the age of 30, he decided to live his life fully as an artist following attention for his work during the “Stock 20 in Taichung Railway Station” exhibit in 2002. Since then, his work continues to be inspired by his surroundings and life experiences.
Coordination and support for the exhibition has been provided by the San Francisco Mayor’s Office, the San Francisco Arts Commission and the San Francisco Department of Recreation & Parks. The exhibit will be up until May 7.