OPEN 17 - 2014
NATIONAL TAIWAN UNIVERSITY OF ARTS
CHEN Ting-Chang, CHIU Fang-Yi, KOU Che-Yin, LAI Mei-Ju, LIN Yu-Chen, LU Ching-Chen, TANES Naipanich
The use of the line is universal. Embodying thoughts, stories, and ideas, it has been part of man’s visual culture since time immemorial. Yet it is likely that in China the possibilities of the line were explored to their fullest extent. Simple tools such as ink, brush and rice paper, were in fact adequate to produce an unparalleled and impressive body of artwork over millennium. More significantly, the line of the brush was what both painting and writing had in common, conveying ideas, communicating thoughts, and sustaining a world resistant to change. It was the black line that projected a sense of continuity, stability and tradition.
The outer world of course is hardly all black, yet Chinese firmly believed in the power of “blackness” to represent all colors and shades of it. The economic use of black lines enabled them to build a monochrome empire, minimalistic and ascetic, until the advent of modernism approximately a century ago.
What is to become of calligraphy in a time of ever more rapidly changing telecommunications and social media? That delicate line of ink, does it have the ability to revitalize itself and adapt to the contemporary world? If it meets that challenge, what will it look like? Or, to put it more explicitly, can this medium survive without falling into the trap of cultural or even nationalist connotation?
With the lifting of Martial Law in 1987, and especially after the emergence of globalization in the past decades, these questions which have vexed generations of Taiwanese artists have become less and less important. These young graduate students of the Department of Painting and Calligraphy, National Taiwan University of Arts, participating in the current edition of the OPEN exhibition, feel freed from the constraints of cultural determination; they produce art that stands for their own individual artistic interests.
These young artists are well acquainted with the influential “Six Principles of Painting”, an essay by the scholar and art critic Hsieh Ho (flourished 5 - 6 century AD) that fixed the theoretical framework for Chinese painting up to the present day. They are rigorously trained in the dozens of traditional brushwork techniques used to represent rocks or mountains by repetitive strokes of various forms and shapes. Yet these young artists consciously chose to follow their inner voice and strive for personal artistic expression. Standing at the beginning of their artistic careers, these seven graduate students are enjoying their international debuts, exhibiting their art and sharing their creative thoughts and ideas with Western audiences. The outcome is manifold, diverse, and fruitful. Interestingly enough, four of the participating young artists have embraced the form of relational art. Their participatory productions range from providing bodily experience, to do-it-yourself artworks, to giving the opportunity to enter into an interaction with Chinese characters or ink painting. Here the involvement of the viewer is welcome and indispensable. The three other participating artists create free-standing sculptural pieces of moderate size concentrating on the human form or psychological conditions.
“In my hometown, people often say, ‘Welcome to my house!’ Ordinary and common interaction always starts with a cup of tea”. This is the prologue of the installation work Tea•Talk by Chiu Fang-Yi. Hanging gifts on a tree as if it were Christmas, Chiu however offers no tea, but tea leaves packed in small bags as presents for the viewer, releasing a delicate and unique fragrance. While her works evoke the subject matter of hospitality, so characteristic of Taiwanese culture, the work Change by Tanes Naipanich emphasizes the pure enjoyment of inviting viewers to making art. Using a clay head and providing color pencils, he induces viewers to apply on the face whatever color in whatever form they like. The work, he says, imitates man’s habit of projecting one’s image of others onto themselves. From a blurry face devoid of any color, the work changes over the course of the audiences’ participation in an unexpected and unpredictable manner.
The human face and the human figure are the primary concern of two other pieces. In The White Y-shirt, Lai Mei-Ju creates a free-standing image of a child clad in a dress with beautiful, traditional patterns. As Lai says, the work is an homage to childhood: “White clothes are like life itself, they are waiting for children to go ahead and put them on. Innocent and fearless, these children are even more beautiful when dressed in white.”
Lin Yu-Chen’s piece The Hesitation, where a small head is set into a larger one, reflects the psychology of the human ego. The artist asks: “Bodies, propelled by consciousness, are sailing through myriad metaphors for time. When one day they crash at an exotic place, will the consciousness choose to remain or to depart?”. While The Hesitation addresses the ultimate destination of our soul, Chen Ting-Chang’s The Imitation of the Grand Silence questions logocentrism by constructing a transparent square tower, with squares of different size overlapping or “hiding” inside one another. This is accompanied by a poem: “Born in gaze/The grand silence/Seeing interpretation as real/Space compares with time/This is the arch-form of contradiction/He is born/Imitating time/for eternity”.
Lu Ching-Chen’s sculpture Two and The Workshop: Chinese Ink and Calligraphy by Kuo Che-Yin have a firm foundation in tradition, yet combined with the contemporary feature of audience participation. While the latter will invite local Venetian to join in a three afternoon’ sessions conveying the wonders of brush and ink, the former uses a structure in the form of a Chinese character; however, this character, meaning “two”, will only become visible when two people are standing inside it.
Though sharing a pedagogical impetus and providing the viewer with the fresh experience of encountering another culture, these young artists show very different approaches to artistic creation. In The Workshop, Kuo Che-Yin expresses her perspectives on art and her hope to explore the variety of painting and calligraphy through interaction with participants. In her work Two, Lu Ching-Chen follows a more straightforward path, simulating and enlarging a Chinese character in order to achieve “a transmission and exchange of cultures, a simple, clear, and interesting way for people to understand the art of calligraphy and Chinese characters”.
The National Taiwan University of Arts is the only university in the country with a department of traditional painting and calligraphy. Its aim is to protect and preserve the heritage of these ancient art forms. While the treasures of the Imperial collection at the National Palace Museum bear witness to the glories of past achievements, the present keepers of these traditions, though thoroughly versed in the handling of brush and ink, look forward to a future in which the art of blackness serves as the primary matter from which to distill a world of innumerable colors.
text by Yang Wen-I
D S LEÓN
The sculptures I create are based on the personal understanding of the human beings taking into consideration their present and past life.
During the creative process spirits manifest in my hands to tell me a story, an allegory.
The artworks become a message of love, friendship and wisdom.
It is a cry for life’s passion to create a better world through the art expression.
text by the artist
Miraclescope sculpture is a fantastic device allegedly defining the miracle and the degree of its manifestation. It is a fantasy on a theme of how such optical machine for the detection, measuring and registration of the miracle parameters could look like. It's shape resembles optical distortions, reflections and refractions. Transparent parts symbolize lenses and oculars. It is something between the telescope and the microscope, but the system of lenses is situated not inside of the device, but is the device itself. This sculpture continues the theme of the Psionics series - theme of the fictional mechanisms, which use in their work the superpowers of the human consciousness and psyche.
From science fiction to Jeff Koons passing through inflatable plastic and manga. These are inspiration for Sasha Frolova, a Russian artist who began as a cosplayer in fashion shows and Post-Sovietic raves, now a futurable heroine and sexy finalist in the Arte Laguna Prize.
[...] In this context, the discovery of the technical and expressive possibilities of latex was decisive for Frolova, who made it an iconic and characteristic element of her production.
[...] From a conceptual point of view the work clearly becomes more complex and rarefied: having abandoned, or at least set aside, her research that favoured an aesthetic exploration of the seductive power of the icon that winked an eye at Japanese neo-pop culture, Frolova now concentrates – drawing on the suggestions of early cyberpunk – on the value and possibilities of artistic investigations offered by psionic culture, a set of theories that studies and conjectures an influence on reality through the use of the mental faculties.
In this sense the centre of research in the psionic field for Frolova is represented by the power of love, seen as a driving force of reality, as shown by works such as Lyubolet/ Lovecraft, a kind of spaceship driven by the intensity of the relationship of the two lovers.
text by Igor Zanti
MANUEL MARTÍ MORENO
The abstraction suggested by bodies and faces that are about to disappear confers a certain magical aura to the eyes of the spectator. Interaction with the spectator through the grandiosity of the artist’s works is constant. In this way, he makes us consider and question whether the invasion of the void by these works acquires a dramatic tone due to the fact that they are not completely modelled. The tension that exists between interior and exterior volume and space is, simply, a frontier line that the artist knows how to limit by means of outlines, but that he can also eliminate by simply negating shape.
Manuel Martí Moreno shows us that personal, ethereal, world full of archetypes. He creates his works using a wide variety of materials, recovered from the time and functions for which they originally intended: screws, wire mesh, old wood, rusty metal sheets, even earth. All these materials are tangible elements present in nearly all his sculptures and which had previously been used for other, more functional purposes.
If we analyze his sculptures, even though they seem very physical, they almost instantly awaken a special sensibility in the spectator: the smooth flow of the shapes, the rhythm of the outlines of the bodies, most of which are starting to disintegrate, provide a continuous melody which combines both calmness and surprise. We could say that his works want to free the space occupied by the void, by the essence they contain. Martí Moreno speaks to us through his sculptures of physical, material, fragility, but it is easy to understand that for him the void is dominant, it is always there, between spirit and body, and perhaps this is the reason why the bodies are disintegrating, continuously opening. Body – matter, yes, but also Essence – Void.
text by Carmela Falomir Ventura
ANA MARIA REQUE
The famous Peruvian artist has a very deep path of life, rich of contrasting moments, made of diametrically opposite cultures and places, that she has been able to adapt step by step in her human being, taking inspiration for her artworks and instructing, sometimes unconsciously, her followers.
“Tornado a Venezia represents my identity, full of contrasts and energies, that impetuously envelopes my human being.”
The nature vortex in union with the artist's cultural and creative one, is able to “anticipate the future, deconstruct a static element and give start to a circular movement. In my mind, the magnificence of architectonic venetian environment is an hold point, that I intensely admire and that symbolically desired to move and transform with the contemporaneous art language”. (AMR)
Her intense activity in construction industry in the years spent in Peru, where the architect-artist was able and longing to plan everything in the smallest detail are in strong contrast with the present, free, spontaneous, unexpected artistic activity and the new languages that Venice and her own artworks are enriching her.
Two identities, two lives, two cultures, at the moment perfectly and strictly integrated and full of energy, an energy able to create new contests, new paths, new artistic styles and strong changes, seemingly repudiating the past, but actually mixing la riqueza de la experiencia with extreme lightness and elegance.
The central thread is really the continuous change in the artist's life, from the childhood in Peruvian Andes to the period of total immersion in the construction industry progression in Lima town, creating draws, construction and re-costruction, being desirous to rebuild and recreate all that has been destructed from a natural disaster in her childhood; then she landed in Venice, eternal beauty capital, made of an illusory lightness and perfection, where art and richness are the absolute protagonists.
Ana Maria Reque's artwork is really complex, eclectic, at first glance hard to be read; each artwork contains fragments of her life, moments, and different cultures which can dialogue with force and incredible elegance, even if so different.
Her artworks send back to the shamanic tradition, to the Andes, to the master glass-maker of Venice that evoke to nature colors and shapes, in a vortex of fragments of life and material as in the series Tornado a Venezia, in strong contrast with the perfect balance found in Una Nuova Vita.
text by Serena Mormino