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Impossible bottle artist Hsu Huang-yen dies at 88

02/07/2024 02:13 PM
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Some of Hsu Huang-yen's works. Photo courtesy of Nantou County Government
Some of Hsu Huang-yen's works. Photo courtesy of Nantou County Government

Taipei, Feb. 7 (CNA) Hsu Huang-yen (許煌烟), a Nantou-based artist known for constructing intricate architectural models inside glass bottles, died recently at the age of 88.

Hsu's death in late January was confirmed by his children, who said that after casting divination blocks, they had decided to donate their father's 100-plus artworks to his close friend, the folklore expert Liao Ta-yi (廖大乙).

In a statement to reporters on Tuesday, Liao said he was making plans to arrange free exhibits of Hsu's work, in order to convey to the public the "determined, persevering spirit" behind his friend's creations.

A resident of Nantou's Yuchi Township, Hsu only began his artistic career in the last twenty-odd years and attributed his style to work he had done as a construction engineer building tunnels at the Taiwan Power Company's Mingtan Power Station.

Using long chopsticks, Hsu assembled detailed architectural models -- of Taipei 101, the 85 Sky Tower in Kaohsiung, as well as transmission towers, sailboats, and pagodas -- inside glass bottles, using only bamboo sticks and glue as his building materials.

The building process required him to constantly adjust the angle of the bottle, and frequently left him with a sore neck and eyes. Such work could only be done slowly, in a state of mental calm, and was impossible if one became frustrated or angry, Hsu previously explained.

In an interview before his death, Hsu joked that he had never seen anyone try to imitate his art. "Without patience, it's really hard to stick to" something like this, he said.

(By Hsiao Po-yang and Matthew Mazzetta)

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