Tina Keng Gallery is pleased to present Yuan Hui-Li: Motion Within Stillness, the artist's latest solo exhibition, which distills her experience during the past three years into a body of work deeply informed by introspection, self-meditation, and the artist's musing amid the pandemic. The outbreak ofCovid at the end of 2019 saw the movement of people restricted, and economic activity slow. The world grew quiet, while a gloom of uncertainty and insecurity fell over society. Undercurrents of loneliness, depression, and anxiety overflowed during lockdown and quarantine. Becoming aware of the changing state of motion and stillness, Yuan began pondering how the equilibrium of the mind could be reached in the face of a global tragedy.
Despite solid training in classical Chinese painting and calligraphy, Yuan Hui-Li's artistic practice responds to her environment and contemporary times by going beyond traditional brush and ink. Her research and practice go hand in hand, while ancient and modern mediums are incorporated into her work. Her ink painting transcends the visual realm, allowing the olfactory, auditory, and tactile perception to coalesce into a profound understanding of the spiritual.
Inspired by the four senses of sight, smell, hearing, and touch, the six series on view are: Intrinsic Potential Landscape, Discrete Islands, Potential of Discrete Islands, Sauntering, Ice Ink, and Sand Line as Water.
Intrinsic Potential Landscape is a new series developed at the beginning of the pandemic. In broad, haphazard brushwork, stark contrast of shades, spontaneous collage of ink on Chinese handmade paper the artist encapsulates the restless state of mind, as well as the social phenomenon of seeking a new order in chaos amidst the seemingly quiet yet turbulent state of the world.
Comprising paintings of colour and ink on linen cotton and Chinese handmade paper, Potential of Discrete Islands and Discrete Islands juxtapose simple, light colour blocks as a continuation of the artist's experience when she moved in 1992 to the rural Jinshan, New Taipei City, Taiwan, where the open view and brumous sky vivified her senses. She often finds herself alone atop the mountain looking over the vast sea, an experience that inspires Discrete Islands, which embodies her daily mindful meditation, as well as one's ultimate road to loneliness.
Sauntering evokes the artist's attention to her bucolic surroundings as she revels in the beauty of nature,strolling around the countryside near her house. Watching the creek run and flow over rocks deep in thevalley, she becomes rejuvenated as she breathes in synchrony with nature, leaving behind worldlyconcerns in a state of tranquility. She pivots away from social turmoil and finds peace as she begins to depict plant life.
Ice Ink manifests the visual imagery of the artist during a singing bowl session, where calming sonic vibrations elicit rippling splashes of ink in her mind. She creates videos and paintings using a frozen ink stick on Chinese handmade paper, while the sounds of the singing bowl enfold her. Only in silence will the viewer hear the elusive, lingering sounds in her video work.
Sand Line as Water was conceived during the peak of the pandemic, when the artist fiddled with hercollection of river stones, mineral stones, and pieces of dead wood within the confines of her home. Emulating karesansui, or the Japanese dry garden, the artist creates small-scale landscapes comprising stones and lines in sand, while the act of drawing in sand stills her mind. In addition to videos and installations, the series also consists of Small Karesansui Bonsai on Tatami, an installation which immerses the viewer in motion within stillness by allowing them to paint in sand on a biweekly limited appointment basis.
'Tranquility allows insight into everything: lucidity lies in the surrender to all' — a verse in For Canliao (送參寥師), penned by Northern Song poet Su Dongpo (1037–1101) for his close friend Monk Canliao — serves as the inspiration for Yuan's latest solo exhibition. The reduced, airy composition conjures a delicate balance between motion/stillness and emptiness/abundance. The emptiness of the sea allows for life to thrive, while turbulent waters accentuate the stillness of the river rocks. Void and quietude do not suggest nothingness or apathy. Instead, Yuan believes, only when the mind becomes empty and surrenders to the inherent rhythm of everything will poetry emerge. Simplicity and equanimity abound when the mind settles, and the intricacies of life materialise before a painting forms.Emptiness simplifies an object, and the object speaks for itself; stillness calms the mind, which sees the object abide in coexistence.
Solitude and motion define not only the everyday for the artist, but her spiritual state when she makes art. The beauty of art making lies in the moment of inspiration that arises from the internal awareness,
when the artist dwells in serenity, focus, and poise, sublimating life's remaining days. In the age of thepandemic, Yuan Hui-Li's Motion Within Stillness instantiates a sense of life rendered in silence andself-contemplation, in hopes of bringing a moment of peace amidst the unrest.
Press release courtesy Tina Keng Gallery.
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