Art Book Publisher nos:books Opens Space in Taipei

Art Book Publisher nos:books Opens Space in Taipei
Photo Credit: Kate Lin

What you need to know

nos:books in Taipei has finally realized its long held wish of having its own space for exhibitions.

By Kate Lin

A few years ago, when I was living in London, I took a pilgrimage to an independent bookstore in Berlin called Do you read me?! In the store, beneath the piles of books from all corners of the earth sat a book of illustrations published by nos:books. 

Encountering a Taiwanese book in that setting, flipping through its pages thousands of miles from home, was an unadulterated joy. 

nos:books is an independent publishing company founded in Taipei in 2008. Focusing mainly on art books, nos:books does not publish copies of artwork, nor do they publish typical coffee-table style books of art collections. They work from a particular artist’s ideas and methods to make books that are themselves works of art. It can be said that nos:books has in its own way elevated book printing into a form of contemporary art. 

Photo Credit: Kate Lin

In its ten years of existence, nos:books has mostly sold books online. They deliver to the major cities in the world, and have participated in book fairs, and in their spare time will sell rare, limited-edition, and out-of-print volumes.

It is said that at book fairs when they are asked, “Are you a bookstore?,” they will artfully dodge the question by responding, “Yes, we are publishers.” But they will now be able to dispense with the prevarications. nos:books has finally realized its long held wish of having its own space for exhibitions.

Photo Credit: Kate Lin

To mark the ribbon-cutting on their new space, nos:books invited two artists 一 Huang Hai-Hsin and Hsian Jung Chen 一 to premiere new works of their own.

Huang’s series on display, “Small Events,” came about 10 years ago when she was homesick living in New York. She spent many hours watching news from Taiwan as a way of coping.

Watching countless news broadcasts led Huang to the discovery of artistic potential in the images when stripped of their framing texts. This became the basis of close to 100 paintings of social scenes both serious and absurd. 

Photo Credit: Kate Lin

These early works seem as if they presage her later works, all of which playfully depict a thin boundary between the real social world and its irrational, bizarre aspects. Her work became all the more relevant in 2020. Now on display at nos:books for the first time is “Small Events 2020” an apt coda to the last year. 

Hsian Jung Chen has always worked with ceramics. His early work tended to be everyday, usable objects.  At nos:books he is displaying “Too Big a Bean for Too Small a Pie,”  which takes a “king cake” 一 a cake with with an embedded figurine 一 as the model for a miniature ceramic sculpture.

Photo Credit: Kate Lin

Chen sees each small porcelain puppet as a complete work. Small as they are, their shape and paint glaze bear the signs of a meticulous hand 一 each is signed by the artist. 

Photo Credit: Kate Lin

nos:bookspace also sells old publications from across the world. A recent showpiece, Steamy Buns, is a collection of drawings they co-created with Misaki Kawai. It is a collaboration with the artist during her visit to Taiwan in 2019.

Photo Credit: Kate Lin

In the past, Misaki’s large sculptures were composed in bright colors, exuding vigor and vitality. But Misaki has other talents, as she can express various art styles in simple charcoal drawings. Her strokes are powerful, and the characters in her work are peculiar and diverse. Misaki shows a child’s innocence through her artwork, bringing us back to our childhood when we hold crayons, smell drawing papers, and immerse ourselves in a world we create on our own.

This exhibition is nos:bookspace’s first activity and will be a showroom in the future. They will sell and display their publications and hold exhibitions and book fairs. If you happen to be around Taishun Street, stop in and see for yourself. 

nos:bookspace Opening Exhibit
Featuring Huang Hai-Shin and Hsian Jung Chen
January 1, 2021 to January 30, 2021
2F, No. 14, Al. 2, Taishun St., Da’an Dist., Taipei
Every Monday and Saturday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. or by appointment 

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TNL Editor: Nicholas Haggerty, Bryan Chou (@thenewslensintl)

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