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Scott Alberts:

I met Tu-2 (pronounced "Tutu"), or "Tu" as I often call him, many years ago in a Friday night drawing session at UCLA's animation workshop. He threw himself into his drawing, exclaiming out loud in appreciation for the model's poses, and drew with such passion that I decided to turn and sketch this intriguing stranger rather than the model in front of me! That drawing always brings a smile to my face, because it marks the beginning of one of my greatest friendships.

Although we had much in common, a love for art, music and photography, and the pain of losing our fathers early in life, I did not know at the time that I would come to share another of his traits, that of being an immigrant. Tu has forged a life for himself far from his childhood in Taiwan, making the sacrifice of leaving friends and family, often not seeing them for years at a time. Now that I have left California to be with my wife in Spain, I understand on a deeper level the sense of being pulled apart that affects anyone who has more than one place called home. Leaving the support system of loved ones to start all over again, learning a new language and culture and making new friends and allies is seldom easy. The rare moments of reunion with those left behind are appreciated intensely.

I have the honor of being the first subject for Tu-2's 108 Blue Series. On my infrequent trips to LA, a highpoint has always been my visits to his hillside garden studio overlooking Echo Park, where Tu always cooks a sumptuous Taiwanese firepot. It's a joy to explore his exotic and colorful studio, revisiting favorite paintings and discovering his new creations.

It's been a true delight to watch the development of the Series, which combines his love of photography, drawing, meditation, and the meaningful people in his life. As he brought them out one by one, handling them as carefully as the precious objects they are, I marveled. I have not seen all of his Blue Series - there were just too many to see them one by one! It's striking that each has received the same amount of careful attention. I am looking forward to one day seeing them all hanging at once, giving an impression I imagine to be much like seeing a sky full of snowflakes.

As subjects, Tu has chosen the people that add meaning to his life. By including so many of them, he's created an almost holographic self-portrait, since those who are important to us are in a way part of us.

As background, he has chosen a rich blue, reminiscent of the sky or the ocean, both symbolic of the subconscious and eternity.

Many are presented with their eyes closed; the comparison to a death mask is almost inevitable. To me it's a memento mori, a reminder that death is always over our shoulder, making the contrast of life more apparent. Of course, the subjects can also be seen to be sleeping or meditating, the goal of meditation being to die to the world of appearances in order to wake up to the true reality. Nevertheless, to me the subjects all seem clearly alive, leaving us caught in the brief space between life and lifelessness. The effect is subtle as the wingbeats of a butterfly, like vicarious meditation.

These images shimmer with light. There are no outlines or drawn shadows. In choosing to depict his subjects in such a way, Tu-2 has veered from his previous expressionistic drawing style, in a sense setting his ego and personality aside, bowing to a greater reality. His love of meditation rings through here, as the sacrifice of what could be considered a personal "style" allows an even purer expression to shine. In a sense he's cut out the middleman (himself!), stepping aside to let us experience the subject directly. Of course, the more invisible a technique, the more difficult it is to actually accomplish. Drawing like this is like dancing on a tightrope - it only comes from years of experience, not only of drawing, but also of seeing with the heart.

Scott Alberts - Storyboard Artist (The Simpsons)
Barcelona, Spain  2011