Shows to See in Taipei: The Lowdown
Exhibition view: Ma Paisui: Trips of Life, Asia Art Center Taipei II (25 August–18 November 2018). Courtesy Asia Art Center.
With the 11th Taipei Biennial (17 November 2018–10 March 2019) and Art Taipei (26–29 October 2018) taking place this autumn, Tessa Moldan gives a rundown of what exhibitions to see at galleries, art spaces and museums across the island nation's capital.
Ma Paisui: Trips of Life
Asia Art Center Taipei II, 93 Lequn 2nd Rd, Zhongshan District
25 August–18 November 2018
Works by master ink painter Ma Paisui are currently on view at Asia Art Center's Taipei II space. Born in Liaoning in China in 1909, Ma arrived in Taiwan in 1949 after travelling the East coast of China during the breakout of the second Sino-Japanese War in 1937, painting landscapes and developing a style of watercolour painting defined by blocks of colour in elegant hues. On the year of his arrival, the artist's work was presented in a solo exhibition in Taipei's Guangfu Auditorium in Zhongshan Hall, whereupon an admiring student approached Ma with the desire to study under him, culminating in a request for the artist to join National Taiwan Normal University's art department. Ma spent the following 47 years developing a distinct style of watercolour painting, gradually transferring to ink on xuan paper. In 1975, Ma relocated to the United States where he spent the rest of his life, first in New York and later Florida. This period marks a maturing period for the artist, with bolder colours being introduced into his images whilst exploring the concepts of yongmo (ink application) and liubai (to leave blank); enabling a greater substance to his works overall.
Nicolas Havette: Erasing silences
VT ArtSalon, B1, No. 17, Ln 56, Sec. 3, Xinsheng North Rd
6 October–3 November 2018
This body of work created by French artist Nicolas Havette is part of an extensive project titled FORTUNES, which was developed across four occasions: during Havette's residency in Tainan at the Soulangh Artist Village; during a one-week performance in VT Art Salon's neighbourhood, and during 'La Nuit des Idées'—a global event organised by Le Bureau Français de Taipei that brings intellectuals, artists and researchers together to discuss contemporary issues. On these occasions, Havette delved into the local context by asking people from different social backgrounds and neighbourhoods to photograph their daily 'landmarks', which he then singled out in white upon chalkboards to create a portrayal of the contemporary challenges faced by residents. The exhibition at VT ArtSalon includes drawings and photographs created during the different stages of Havette's project in Taiwan.
Yuko Mohri: Same As It Ever Was
Project Fulfill Art Space, No. 2, Alley 45, Lane 147, Section 3, Sinyi Rd
29 September–3 November 2018
Project Fulfill Art Space presents Japanese artist Yuko Mohri's series, 'Moré Moré (Leaky): Variations' (2009–onwards): delicate, humorous installations that explore the futile efforts of station agents to quell leaky situations in underground stations across Tokyo. Borrowing from early 20th century philosopher Soetsu Yanagi's concept of the 'beauty of use', which considers the beauty of everyday things, Mohri assembles found objects such as rain boots, pipes and soda bottles into interconnected systems. These assemblages poetically depict human responses to the inevitable processes of entropy on manmade infrastructure. The series saw Mohri receive the 2015 Nissan Art Award, and is paired at Project Fulfill Art Space with the artist's new video series, 'Everything Flows' (2015–2018). Mohri pulls inspiration from ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus' understanding of fire as the fundamental element from which everything begins, which she uses as the undercurrent to footage of her travels from 2014 to 2015. The seemingly disparate locations come together as a stream—a visual representation of Heraclitus' belief that, like fire, 'everything flows.'
Empty as they are full, the micro-universes that Taiwanese painter Lai Chiu-Chen creates are filled with bold colours in broad, graphic planes that flatten the overall composition. Toy, cartoon and anime figures occasionally crop up amongst the geometric planes, as in Snow White Wants to Sneak Away to the Beach(2018), in which Snow White's head peers out from behind a gridded structure and in the bottom right-hand corner a seascape is depicted in flat shades of blue and green. Despite their popping colours, there is a strange eeriness to Lai's works; emphasised in Snow White's wide, fixated gaze in the aforementioned painting.
The 6th Kuandu Biennale: Seven Questions for Asia
Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts, 1 Xueyuan Rd, Beitou District
5 October 2018–6 January 2019
Situated in the campus of the National Taipei University, Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts (KdMoFA) houses the Kuandu Biennale, whose sixth edition runs between 5 October and 6 January 2018. Over the past decade, this reflexive exhibition has sought to understand the very importance of the biennale format, while exploring the topic of Asia in the past five editions. As a response to the homogenising efforts that the region has consistently been subjected to throughout history—China's One Belt One Road being a recent example—this edition offers seven questions that probe the plurality of the region. These include 'The Impossibility of Mapping (Asia)', curated by NTU Centre for Contemporary Art in Singapore's founding director Ute Meta Bauer, with artists Fiona Tan and Ho Tzu Nyen, whose film The Critical Dictionary of Southeast Asia explores the defining elements that unify the region. 'Do Accents, Dialects and Languages Delimit Social Classes in Asia?' curated by Bala Starr, director of the Institute of Contemporary Art in Singapore, features Zou Zhao's video An apology with Bryan (2017), in which the artist is seen trying to orally teach her friend Bryan to learn a segment of Chinese opera—part of Zou's project The Listening Workshop (2017) and her wider exploration of language and ideology.
Solo exhibition by Zhan Jia-Hua: The Y Generation: Artificial Corporeality
Museum of Contemporary Art, 39 Chang'an West Rd, Datong District
6 October–2 December 2018
Zhan Jia-Hua's solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, The Y Generation: Artificial Corporeality portrays one of our most alarming contemporary realities: the contracting space between the digital and the corporeal. Zhan focuses on the 'Y Generation'—those born between 1981 and 2000—to demonstrate how human perception is eroding as technology gains prominence. The exhibition opens with Virtual Role: Artist Zhan (2018), in which a series of messages containing information about the exhibition appears through viewers' phones through the communication app LINE if they choose to zap the corresponding QR code, while back-end programming formulates responses. An ambiguity as to whether or not the output of messages come from the artist herself highlights the blurring boundaries between our physical and virtual selves. Online messaging is further explored in Message L Series (2018), a light and sound installation whose centre piece is a mannequin clad in a grey tracksuit with plastic tubes filled with fluorescent lighting cascading from the dark, gaping hole in his/her hoodie—a frightening representation of the vapidity of our technologically-driven lifestyles.
John Monteith: Kindred Spirits
Taipei Contemporary Art Center, No. 11, Lane 49, Baoan Street
18 October–3 November 2018
Curated 'in the spirit of anti-nationalism', Canadian artist John Monteith's current solo exhibition at Taipei Contemporary Art Center, Kindred Spirits, is centred on a series of flags that the artist developed from abstract drawings. The geometric, overlapping forms and colours were derived from urban structures that designate sites of social exchange, such as highways and roadways. Disconnected from any particular place or ideology, these flags open up a space that crisscrosses through the identities of those that find themselves in it, opening up what the artist describes as a 'non-hegemonic queer space of difference'. The exhibition coincides with Pride Taipei (27 October 2018), and sees Monteith collaborate with local and international queer artists working in performance film and video to activate the space as a site of exchange.
Thierry Feuz: Silent Winds
Bluerider Art, 9F & 10F, 25-1, Sec. 4 Ren'ai Rd, Da'an District
27 October–6 December 2018
Swiss artist Thierry Feuz's cosmic, floral paintings will electrify Bluerider Art for his solo exhibition opening 27 October. Applications of lacquer, acrylic, pencil, collage, glitter and soil are rendered as sweeping fields of minute abstract forms, flowers and foliage—miniature composites that culminate in breath-taking compositions akin to the awesome detail of Hieronymous Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights. Feuz's ecstatic paintings will also be on view at the gallery's booth J02 at Art Taipei.
Group exhibition: Should We Play?
Liang Gallery, 366 Ruiguang Rd, Neihu District
6 October–4 November 2018
Eight new media artists and collectives come together in Liang Gallery's current exhibition, Should We Play? to explore the notion of 'play' as an activity that sits between introspection and exploration—a blurry realm that requires a degree of disassociation from the real world. The exhibition is underlined by the subtitle 'Transitional Mirage', which considers the game as 'a fantasy world constructed of action, imagination and critical awareness'. How can playing contribute to our experience of reality? Does it do so? Artist collective Pure Do invite viewers to play with their work Invisible Direction, for which urban structures have been tagged with invisible ink, inviting participants to uncover their traces with a special torch. In Water City (2018) by Legacy Lab International, blue liquid shudders through thin tubes running in and out of the surface of the canvas, a visual representation of urban social dynamics.
Ava Hsueh: Between Shuttles
Tina Keng Gallery, 1F, No.15, Ln. 548, Ruiguang Rd, Neihu District
9 September–9 December 2018
Ava Hsueh's new solo exhibition at Tina Keng Gallery presents a body of work developed over the past 15 years, based on a reconstruction of text through painting. These abstract works are made up of strewn colours and shades that collide across the picture plane—the fury of colours occasionally interrupted by a stroke or dash, resembling a verbal interjection. This new vocabulary redefines the very meaning of painting, providing a new sensibility to the experience of viewing the medium.
Mit Jai Inn: Light, Dark Other
TKG+, 15 Ln, 548 Ruiguang Rd, Neihu District, B1
27 October–25 November 2018
Over at Tina Keng Gallery's experimental sister space that focuses on emerging Asian artists, works by Mit Jai Inn provide a continuation to Ava Hsueh's abstract explorations. The artist has adapted a more tactile approach, which sees untrimmed canvases covered by rough clumps of oil paint. These are monumental, wild worlds of colour and form, heightened by the unusual manner in which they are exhibited—sometimes mid-air, swaying to-and-fro from the ceiling, or spread across the floor. In doing so, Mit Jai Inn questions space and its occupation—a topic he began exploring as a student in Vienna, where he worked as an assistant to Franz West. Since his return, the artist has become a prominent member of the art scene in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Taipei Fine Arts Museum, 181, Zhongshan North Rd, Section 3
Founded in 1983, Taipei Fine Arts Museum is the oldest museum in Taiwan dedicated to modern and contemporary art. On 21 July 2018, the museum re-opened to the public after a nine-month renovation project and a series of outstanding exhibitions ensued. The museum is also the site for the Taipei Biennial, whose eleventh edition, Post-Nature—A Museum as an Ecosystem, will run between 17 November 2018 and 10 March 2019.
Cross Through the Magical Mirror, and Enter a New World!
21 July–2 December 2018
'Let's cross through the magical mirror, and enter a new world!' So invites the press release for Cross Through the Magical Mirror, and Enter a New World!, an exhibition that imagines an imminent, entirely technologically-driven era. Three artists have been invited to respond to this future turn, including art collective Clockwork Noses, Shi Yi-shan and Chen Hui-chao. Their works have been divided into three acts that include 'The Human Realm', 'The Machine Realm' and 'The Realm of Nature'. In 'The Human Realm', Clockwork Noses offer their take on a world defined by manmade infrastructure as put forward by the scientific hypothesis of the 'Anthropocene' as earth's most recent geologic time that is being altered by human behaviour. Their installation, weee (2018), has been constructed from 'non-art materials' such as sofas, lamps and audio tapes as a means of exploring the 'human level of life'. By contrast, Chen Hui-chao has created a garden in the museum's plaza that appears as a dreamscape, offering a meditative space for viewers—welcome respite from the hardware of the digital world explored throughout the rest of the exhibition.
Hsia Yan: Journey to Art
25 August–21 October 2018
The gentle, quivering strokes of Hsia Yan provide an alternative experience to the portrayals of the technologically-driven world explored in the previous exhibition. Nonetheless, Hsia's poetic paintings touch on the topics of urban restlessness and alienation, which began during his stay in New York in the 1970s where he became influenced by the increasing popularity of photorealism. Figures painted during this period are often blurred, such as Kitty (1972), in which a woman rushes forward, alone, in a city street. Recent works, such as The Turtle was Watching the Race between the Yellow Dog and the Black Carp (2013) and The Dashing Muscovy Ducks, Rushing through the Lotus Pond (2014) are brighter in comparison, rendered as picturesque planes of green and blue with daintily depicted animals darting about ponds and fields.
René Magritte, The Revealing Image: Photos and Films
29 September–25 November 2018
Those that find themselves at the museum for the Taipei Biennial will encounter another gem of an exhibition consisting of images discovered ten years after the death of Surrealist mastermind: René Magritte. These historic documents provide a portal into the life of the artist, capturing his friends and family, including Man Ray, Raoul Ubac, and Jacques Andre- Boiffard, among others. They also demonstrate an element of art historical significance: the importance that photography played as creative motivation for Magritte. —[O]