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Syau-Cheng Lai

Syau-Cheng Lai
The Riddle of Ahab   
The terms “painter,” “musician,” and “scientist” equally well describe the varied intellectual accomplishments of Syau-Cheng Lai. And they all provide avenues of access to her stunning mixed-media compositions. In the tradition of Modernist art, Syau-Cheng’s works explore the formal properties of her materials. In viewing her work, one must share the artist’s own fascination with shimmering surfaces and richly applied paints. Yet, her work also exhibits a typically Post-modern attitude toward the potential materials of art. In addition to the traditional media of paint, Syau-Cheng’s creations typically include leaf, gauze, thread, tape, and found objects such as buttons and costume jewelry, all seamlessly integrated. Nor do the irregular edges of her compositions, whether on canvas or hand-made paper, contain her creative act. They are simply places where the material stops.

Syau-Cheng Lai
Enigma of the Arrival

Because we usually find identifiable images emerging from the surface of her work, her style cannot properly be labeled “abstract.” But it is the sense of emergence, rather than the image itself, which conditions our response. The images in Syau-Cheng’s works emerge from the background as a suggestion: a sense of something lost or only partially recovered from time or the bric-a-brac of memory. Whether an ancient inscription, a petroglyph, or a ghostly presence, the image itself is subordinate to the process of recovery.

A strong component of process – of elapsed time - invests Syau-Cheng’s compositions. This results, in large part, from the tensions which exist on the surface of the work. Here form seems to struggle with formlessness, being with becoming. One component of Syau-Cheng’s art is highly ornamental. She contrives Rococo-like visual rhythms which she then punctuates with strident notes of dissonance. Finely drawn arabesques and graceful calligraphy present a background for the emergence of pure mass in the elemental stages of formation.

A native of Taiwan, Syau-Cheng Lai currently resides in Ithaca, New York. In addition to her work as a studio artist, she is a concert pianist and holds a Ph. D. in Biopsychology from Cornell. Her work has been exhibited widely throughout New York state.

Syau-Cheng Lai
Red Ascent

Syau-Cheng Lai
Bleu Palace



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