Canadian calls Taiwan home in inspiring painting exhibition

(Left) James Hugh Gough is pictured in this undated photo taken at Vaikuntha Art Gallery; (Right) Liujia Home at Night, 2018, 45.5 cm x 38 cm, Acrylic on canvas. (Courtesy of James Hugh Gough)

TAIPEI (The China Post) — Where is “home” for you  —  that place where you feel you most belong? Is it the house where you grew up? Is it your current home? Is it just being with your loved ones, wherever you are or is it something else entirely?

If you visit the latest painting exhibition of James Hugh Gough, the answer to this question might be plain and simple: Taiwan. “Glass and Gardens  —  Taiwan, My Home,” which runs until Aug. 23 at Vaikuntha Art Gallery, Taipei, for sure gives you an insight into the Canadian artist’s many sources of inspiration here.

Muza Traditional Market, 2020, 45.5 cm x 38 cm, cm, Acrylic on canvas (Courtesy of James Hugh Gough)
Home Sweet Home

“The neighborhoods I’ve lived in during my time in Taiwan provide most of the inspiration for this exhibition,” he told The China Post. “The alleys and grated windows of Banqiao. The way urban sprawl meets a wall of nature in Muza. The comforting feeling of ‘home’ when I visit my wife’s family in Liujia .”

In many cases, the views depicted in his paintings are from the apartments he has resided in while in Taiwan, or streets nearby. They are all connected by the deep affection he has for this special place he calls home.

“I knew this was home the first time I returned from a trip back to Canada. I love Canada, but my wife and I were there for about a week when we started really missing the food here,” he continued. “We landed in Taiwan, got our baggage, and the automatic doors opened at Taoyuan airport. The heat hit me, and I breathed a sigh of relief. I was home.”

(Left) Fulong Balcony, 2019, 100 cm x 80 cm, Acrylic on canvas; (Right) James Hugh Gough is pictured in his workshop in this undated photo. (Courtesy of James Hugh Gough)
Common Scenes, Variety of media

Common scenes are of great interest to the artist who looks at everyday life from various perspectives using a variety of media: pen and ink, watercolor and acrylics. Acrylic paints seem to fit his disposition.

They dry faster than oils, which allows him to move to the next layer more quickly.

It takes him a long time to finish a painting, so this helps get things going a little bit faster than if he used oils. Also, he feels that he can get a similar result, as long as he stacks the layers properly.

For his books, he uses watercolor pencils. “Mistakes cannot be covered up, so it can be a tedious, yet rewarding, affair doing watercolor pencil drawings,” he added. “I feel watercolor pencils provide the right atmosphere for children’s books. Acrylics suit adults. Using a variety of media allows me to be creative; to reject being stifled.”

Banqiuao Alley, 2017, 22 cm x 27 cm, Ink on paper (Courtesy of James Hugh Gough)
Children Literature

Gough’s next project is another children’s book. He has finished the drawings and written it already. Currently, the art director is doing the layout and he hopes to release it this fall.

“It’s a little different from his previous two books,” he explained. “I’ve still used watercolor pencils, but gone with a simpler approach. Also, it’s not illustrated poetry. It’s a straightforward story, with humor and adventure. It deals with climate change, which I think is, perhaps, the most important issue of our time.”

Asked about his creative process, he said that it all starts with an idea.

“Get one of those and you’re golden. Then buckle up for years of meticulous work. For my books, I do almost all of the drawings first,” he remarked. “That takes forever. Then, I write the words. Generally, I’ve had years to think about them, so they tend to come a bit more quickly. Then I add any drawings I need to fit the text.”

How to get there? | “Glass and Gardens — Taiwan, My Home” |1F, №3–1, Lane 55, Chaozhou St., Daan District, Taipei | Near MRT Guting Station, exit 5 or 6 (10 min. walk)


(Left) “Glass and Gardens — Taiwan, My Home,” which runs until Aug. 23 at Vaikuntha Art Gallery, Taipei; (Right) Doorway in historical Banqiao, 2016, 25.5 cm x 17.5 cm, Acrylic on canvas (Courtesy of James Hugh Gough)