Life inspires the art of A-Kan

Thu, Aug 18, 2005

The East Coast artist believes art needs to be made by observing life with his own eyes and by confirming the experience with his own feet

Kan Shing-yi (甘信一), aka A-Kan, usually spends his afternoons smoking and chatting with friends and visitors at his art gallery, which used to be a rundown two-story house near Hualian (花蓮縣). Now there is a smart sign JOKI (拙而奇) outside and it is a comfortable place to hang out.

The art gallery, founded in 1996, is on the East Coast and has a view of the Pacific Ocean. A-Kan's staff serve tea or coffee and simple meals to visitors, as many of them have likely traveled a long way to find the gallery. On a cozy porch at the back of the establishment, visiting guests find canopied seats and tables.

It's a relaxing place to spend some time in the summer, sipping freshly brewed coffee and appreciating the Pacific Ocean scenery, as waves crash onto rocks and if you're lucky, dolphins or whales can be seen passing by.

A-Kan is a slim, middle-aged man with a small moustache who often wears a white peaked cap. He has been creating works of art in Hualian for more than 20 years and has married a woman from the Amei tribe.

Driftwood from the ocean, cobblestones on the seashore and manmade copper tubes are the three major components of A-Kan's multi-media art pieces.

"Stone symbolizes antiquity since it existed a long time ago. Wood implies life for the reason that it has annual rings; and copper, a product of modern science, stands for technology and the future of human society," A-Kan says.

His overriding idea is to utilize natural and ancient substances with a touch of modernity to show human history through the creation of art.

A-Kan's Art Chair series is full of stylish humor and combines practical usage and beauty. Those who have seen Art Chair can clearly see the artistic touches that have been applied to the chairs. The result of such art comes from a sophisticated thinking about the relationship between people and furniture before such a piece is produced.

Another of A-Kan's series of pieces is Seaward, which uses big and small fish, carved and polished from seaside cobblestones, as an image to echo the sound of the ocean, which A-Kan believes to be the origin of life. Many of his other works such as Zen and the Turandot series are so creative and witty that one would find it hard to not be overwhelmed by such artistic ingenuity.

Some of A-Kan's artworks are not just appreciated by ordinary visitors to his gallery but also by the wealthy and powerful, who happen to be collectors of his works. Such rich and famous fans include the Tsai family, which owns the newly renovated Sheraton Taipei Hotel, the Wu family which owns the Shin Kong Group, construction tycoon Nita Ing (殷琪) and various other collectors.

Once upon a time A-Kan was given the opportunity to stay in Germany to create art, but he decided to leave after a short period of time due to lack of inspiration from the country.

A-Kan claims, however, he enjoys creating mainstream artworks and does not appreciate art intended for highbrow audiences only. He believes that a person needs to observe life with his own eyes and to confirm the experience with his own feet. This is the only truthful way to comprehend the rich and versatile aspects of life, he says. All art, as it is perceived by the artist, should originate from such feelings of human life, he adds.

The artist is now trying to introduce glass bottles of different shapes and colors as the fourth component to his experimental flower vase series. In A-Kan's eyes his decorative art pieces will comfort people in the same way a pleasant environment soothes the the mood.

(By Derek Lee  /  STAFF REPORTER)


Introduction Kan Shin-Yi
1954 Born in Taichung City, Taiwan
1967 Study in Daya Junior High School, then transfer to Shengang Junior High School
1969 Leave high school
Parents divorce, and stay with father
1970 Work in factories for making iron, bat, and battery in Taipei
1971 Work in grocery store, noodle stand, and brewery in Taichung
1972 Open a farm, but half of 300 sheep died in two months, and all 4000 chickens are exterminated in three month. Therefore, work in a supermarket
1973 Work in golf course as a caddie in Taipei
1974 Work in plastics factory in Taichung
1975 Work in marble factory, quarry, trucker, and join the army in Hualien
1977 After leave the army, worked at a medical equipment store, taxi driver, trucker, and a craft shop in Hualien
1978 Married
Open a farm, camping area, and starting to construct a hostel in Hualien
1979 Given first child
Open a hostel
1985 Start to be an artist
1986 Given second child
Open Joki art gallery, and stay in Shimen





No3, Shihmen, Fengbin Township, Hualian County 97792.Taiwan(R.O.C)

How to get there:
Drive along Provincial Highway 11 from Hualien City, about 1 hour after reaching Fengbin Township.(60.4k)[google map]   

The minimum charge is 130NT dollars per person.

Open: 13:00pm to 17:00pm

Contact: +886-3-8781-616

Fax: (03)8781-206


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