As a collage of sheet iron, concrete, and colorful posters brimming with unique and strong Taiwanese character, a glimpse of the exhibition site itself located in a film studio hidden in an industrial district inhabited by a driving school would have started the visitor’s journey of an unusual cultural experience. Taiwanese artist Wu Chi-Tsung’s solo exhibition ‘ECHO’ curated by Wu Chi-Tsung Studio and Galerie du Monde, a Hong Kong-based gallery of contemporary art, will be open to public from January 18th to 20th 2019 in parallel with Taipei Dangdai. The exhibition is a reflection of oriental aesthetics in the shape of contemporary art, presenting a new horizon in the spectrum of worldwide art practice.
The philosophy of Wu Chi-Tsung’s work is a fusion of conceptual approach of experimental contemporary art language and visual language from the cultivation of classical eastern aesthetics. The ‘ECHO’ refers to the mirroring culture between the East and the West. Hence, the eastern tradition and their pursuit of the intangibility is contrasted with the contemporary language and the depiction of the solid world of the West throughout the exhibition.
‘Trained by both eastern and western traditional art academia yet focusing on contemporary media and conceptual art, I always reflect on the difference between eastern and western culture, as well as the contradiction between traditional art and contemporary art. It is a shame to witness the decay of traditional cultures and aesthetics that are exclusive to eastern cultures,’ says Wu Chi-Tsung, ‘as a result, I fuse and accommodate new and old, the West and the East in my recent works. The multicultural environment in Taiwan has nourished me. Living in an era that pursuits the zeitgeist, I’d rather be fascinated by those that are timeless. It is the light, the base of visual sense, that illuminates the tangible world as well as the invisible spiritual field and unveils the hidden commonness that is shared by every object from an essential perspective.’
Upon the visitors’ first step at the exhibition site, they would soon be impressed by the atmosphere of the faint-lighted room composed of environmental music and the sound of axles. Following the guide of the shimmering light, what comes to people is a phantom city like a set of crystal sculpture which is a continuation of the artist’s renowned Crystal City Series. This time, the exhibition presents the artist’s new work on this series, the Crystal City 008, which is inspired by Hong Kong’s city landscape and its pace of life. Numerous transparent plastic boxes constitute the geometrical, rational and ordered skyscrapers shadowed by a vertically moving light source. Corresponding to the Crystal City 008, an on site production is created using plastic sheet as stretching and undulating mountains, and is set with several branches. A mechanical construction with HID light on its forepart moving forwards and backwards is running on a track that passes through the ‘mountains’, casted from where the shadows of the ‘mountains’ and the branches entwine. The ordinary materials used in this art work remind viewers of the realistic world; however, it leads people to a further imaginary scene. The shadow is casted on thin veils built upon industrial steel frames. How romantic and vulnerable, yet enormous and fathomless it is when the shadow of the crystal city moves slowly on the veils, and the boundary between the reality and illusions is blurred when the shadow is overlapped with that of the visitors as they walk through the ‘city’.
Another on-site production in the exhibition is the Wrinkled Texture Series that characteristically reinterprets the texturing methods (Cun-Fa) of traditional Chinese landscape painting (Shan Shui) by photography to render the mountains and rocks in a subjective way. Pluralism and liberal spirit are rooted in Wu Chi-Tsung’s art. This time, the mountains and cliffs are portrayed on a huge screen that is composed with few aged door sheets with different styles, and set in an open ‘bedroom’ setting. The artist utilizes and modernizes the classic photographic technique – Cyanotype. Paper was covered in the photosensitive solution and then continually reshaped and refolded while being exposed to sunlight. After the paper was washed, the image would be fixed, revealing the likeness of mountain precipices and cliffs. It applies Photogram technique to record the random variations of the folded paper during the exposure aiming to blend traditional Chinese landscape (Shan Shui) with experimental photography, conceptual art, and performance, and hence to eradicate the border between traditional and contemporary art.
After stepping out of the bedroom setting, visitors would be guided by a plants lining pathway to a wilder space of ruins. Bringing a scene of magnificence, the 488cm x 244cm Cyano-collage is by far the largest piece of the Cyano-collage Series. Based on the technique of the Wrinkled Texture Series, the Cyano-collage Series cut and regroup dozens of cyanotype photographic papers before mounting them on a canvas. Layers of rice paper constitute a purposeful preservation of unpainted space on the canvas that echoes the crucial concept Liu Bai in classical Chinese paintings. Moreover, with the bodily participation of the artist, the landscape is constructed to be appreciated both statically and on the move. Thus, the viewers are led by the art work from a concrete and solid reality embodied by the random mountain-shaped wrinkles on the photographic paper to a microscopic and imaginary world where the shadows representing traditional Chinese landscape (Shan Shui) appear. Which mountain is the ‘real’ one between them? Carrying the idea of utilizing ordinary objects to create an exceptional visual experience, the Wire V stands at a corner of the ruin site. Based on the structure of the Magic Lantern slide projection work, the Wire Series use a mechanical control to repeatedly adjust the focal length to transform a regular piece of wire mesh into a moving image of a dynamic Chinese landscape (Shan Shui). This Dialectical alteration of the wire has composed a different layer and possibility to the traditional Chinese landscape as a new visual language under the digital age. The Cyano-collage and the Wire V both embody Wu Chi-Tsung’s recent focus, that is to salute to and reflect on eastern traditional aesthetics and literati spirits by machinery and photography mediums.
Kelvin Yang, director of Galerie du Monde, says ‘What is delivered throughout this exhibition is not simply nostalgia but also a personal manifesto from Taiwan to the world. To dig out the characteristic DNA in Wu Chi-Tsung’s art has been our premiere pursuit of this exhibition from the very beginning which can be seen from our unconventional exhibition site selection. Wu Chi-Tsung never limits himself in his talent on traditional subjects. His liberal spirit and his light-and-shadow philosophy make his works combine both sense and sensibility.’
Location: MAK7 Studio, No.133, Sec. 3, Nangang Rd., Nangang Dist., Taipei