藝術創作計劃 2013 – 2014
Eight Views of Taiwan: Art Creation Project 2013 – 2015
“The most beautiful scenery in Taiwan is the people,” has recently become a popular phrase, meaning the Taiwanese people are warm and loving. But does it suggest the scenery of Taiwan to not be beautiful? Or at least incomparable to the people? In fact, Taiwan’s natural landscape is vastly diverse and full of character, very much like the people.
Eight Views of Taiwan first appeared in 1694 in the official Taiwan Chorography. In the four following centuries, the list of Eight Views has undergone a series of changes according to the times, due to not only the island’s development and social growth, but also the people’s choice of aesthetics and sense of cultural identification. What makes a scenery beautiful? A viewer’s opinion often oversteps the boundaries of objectivity. From 2013, three cross-strait artists, Lin (Apex) Pang-soong, Zhou Gang, and Xue Song, were invited for the Eight Views of Taiwan creation project. Without a preconceived list of Eight Views, the artists were invited to travel around Taiwan, and through their experience and interaction with the island, each represent the scenery in their own artistic language, ultimately painting a view into the cultural and historical heritage of Taiwan.
Lin (Apex) Pang-soong
Lin (Apex) Pang-song has adopted the image of Taiwan as his subject matter for many years. While the image of the island remains stable, the composition is ever-changing. From flowers and trees to clouds and mountains, they are all drawn together to form the image of Taiwan.
For Eight Views of Taiwan, Lin temporarily abandoned his usual iconography and continued his series from the Silk Road – A Fan a Day. Fan Painting is a classic genre in traditional Chinese Painting. Convenient in size and form, the fan can be carried and painted on without constraints with location, and is therefore popular among connoisseurs.
Lin Pang-soong utilizes the shape of the fan with the use of multi-point perspective, thereby representing the landscape in panoramic view. As the viewer opens the fan fold by fold, the composition is revealed in small sections, recalling the effect of a traditional hand scroll. On the reverse side is a brief history of the scenery, as well as Lin’s recollections, rendered beautifully in running-script calligraphy. This form of documentation through painting and calligraphy continues and expands his ongoing performance art piece with postcards and letters, in which the fan fuels the performance.
Zhou Gang grew up in the ancient capital of Xi’an and attended university at the China Academy of Art, where upon graduation he stayed on teaching at the academy, and has resided in Hangzhou since. The lush and subtle landscape of the Yangtze delta region is strikingly different from the dry and rugged northwest, and Zhou’s experience in living and traveling in both environments enriches his understanding of landscape art. In fact, Zhou is a firm believer in live sketching on location. Although he has traveled throughout the mainland in search of subject matter, the island of Taiwan has always eluded him, and desipte visiting Taiwan for academic purposes, the landscape of Taiwan remains strange and attractive to him. Therefore, the Eight Views of Taiwan creation project finally fulfilled his wish to capture Taiwan with his brush.
Zhou Gang believes while the landscape of Taiwan is incomparable to that of China, in terms of the sheer scale, he points out being small in size has its advantages. What he finds most remarkable is how cultural life in Taiwan is seamlessly integrated with the landscape. Whether a view of a natural scenery or one of historical importance, the location is not simply a tourist site, but also where residence conduct their daily lives. In small town of Lukang, Zhou was captivated by the Longshan Temple, and how it stood and functioned unchanged for hundreds of years. We visited the temple in late November, as the damp winter cold was settling in. Zhou; however, was completely undeterred by the winter wind and painted the afternoon away. He was also drawn to the quaint and relaxed pace of life of old Tainan. That day, as we visited the Martial Temple close to dusk, Zhou brilliantly captured the red temple walls set against the golden sunset. Sat on the sidewalk across from Fort Provintia, he set himself on a race against time, wielding his brush furiously before every inch of sunlight passed.
Through his journey around the island and his interaction with the scenery through live sketching, Zhou Gang’s emotional impressions of Taiwan are colorfully reflected in his paintings.
A prominent feature of Xue Song’s art is the reconstruction of ready-made images through collage, specifically with the burning of printed materials to create shards and ashes. These materials include books such as art catalogues, copybooks for calligraphy, and photographs. Whichever the material, the images are chosen to reflect or represent the subject matter, through juxtaposition, allusion, or metaphor. After being burned into spontaneous shapes, the individual images are then pasted onto the canvas in precise arrangements to form the overall composition, thereby achieving a multitude of visual effects.
In art, Xue Song explores the relation between history and contemporary life. His subject matter includes landscapes, historical figures, famous paintings, and fashion, in which the landscape genre plays a defining role. He transforms the traditional Chinese landscape by integrating images of contemporary life, creating a new composition that is stylistically both classical and modern.
In inviting Xue Song for Eight Views of Taiwan, he was enthusiastic about project and was a pleasure to work with. Twice coming to Taiwan, we toured nearly every important location, and even visited the Matsu Islands, where upon entering Tunnel 88 where Kaoliang liquor is distilled and stored, Xue gave off the happiest smile. Shortly after his return, eight astonishing artworks were completed. What is most remarkable is his use of materials he gathered in Taiwan, including vintage images of Taiwan aboriginals, Chinese settlers, Dutch traders, and Japanese colonials, as well as historical monuments, cultural landscapes, and famous paintings and calligraphy. By reassembling these images in collage, Xue Song’s creates a fascinating view into the cultural diversity and historical heritage of Taiwan’s beautiful sceneries.
Elaine Suyu Liu