The earliest human paintings were cave paintings that recorded things in life. However, they were able to make a breakthrough to objectively record nature, constituting painting as human creativity, which is shown in the consecutive double-square or four-square in original ethnic containers. Those patterns manifest that creativity is continuous “rhythm” and “vitality.” Its existence was positioned by anthropologists as a cultural phenomenon under the “universal animism” system of a theological nature. However, the major accomplishments obtained by the concept of painting in modern times is humans breaking away from the gods and using themselves as aesthetic criteria to create the concept of “art.” These formed paintings were used to express the creative mode of human emotion. This emotion is the source of aesthetics. At the same time, it is also the foundation of using emotions for learning and tasting, thereby creating the concept that painting is art.
For a long time, paintings were often used as a starting point for our observation of “beauty.” Learning painting is practically cultivating taste constructing, or forming the ability to beauty appreciating. In fact, the constructing of “taste” was influenced by the reproduction process of nature. That is manifested in the expression that beauty is the “reproduction of nature.” However, the development of the concept of art eventually went through a change of perspective due to human technology. This is presented in the way that cubism is expressed in art, tossing aside taste (the problem of beauty or ugliness) to seek “truth.” We must seriously take a look at cubism to make a breakthrough of picture frames which hold the thoughts of a virtual vanishing point and virtual three-dimensional space. Its meaning is closer to the truth of the matter and more accurately views our observations as actually being a live observation process. It is not seen as an alleged viewing method for traditional “beauty.” The discovery of photography and printing technology gradually destroyed the authenticity of the painting’s “aura,” and shook up the narrative structure formed by traditional painting. After successive waves of attacks, a trend of painting giving way to photography, composite media art, and art installations was already becoming commonplace. Yet, the self-proclaimed avant-garde still appeared to move towards the declaration that “painting is dead.”
“Is painting dead?” This is the artistic question that I have been pondering over the recent years. Of course, thinking like this, apart from the reluctance to depart as a creator from “painting” as a study process in the exploration of the self, this declaration of “painting is dead,” has seemed to also stir up my sense of responsibility within “painting.” Perhaps the existence of painting, as others have said, “seems to have entered the Forbidden City.” However, when faced with human “emotions,” painting has many qualities that other art cannot replace. So when conceptual art uses the form to reflect my own attitude towards art, perhaps they neglected that the origin of art stemmed from the inherent characteristics of life. This kind of palpitating is related to “emotion,” “temperature,” and the “actual functions of the body.” Of course, my concern is not purely returning to the original position of painting, but what direction painting should take in the future! As to this direction, I believe that the temperature of “painting” is a key concept. Even if minimalism wishes to lower the temperature, they cannot go without temperature and lower it to zero. This process illustrates that “painting” should be viewed as a subject. “Concept” should not be viewed as a subject. This is the direction painting should take.
(Organized by CHU, WEN-HAI)
If you want to use installation art forms for personal creativity, then the founding of IT PARK can be said to have been a symbolic watershed. Before IT PARK, I had already consciously spent time thinking about artistic issues of installation techniques. 1984’s Seven Days of Practice for me was the door that opened up large-scale installation art. And it was IT PARK that provided the means for artistic transformation at that time in Taiwan. Many artists with great aspirations could explore and speak on this free platform. Taiwan’s installation art concepts developed rapidly during this period.
As to why I turned to installation art, my position at that time was mostly based on problems encountered when “painting.” This could simultaneously also be said to be a criticism of the art form of painting. I believed that there was a feature of art that was different from other activities. It was always an exploration of unfathomable strangeness. Eventually, some kind of consensus or common understanding might be reached with this strangeness. In this way, the self can be transcended and a work of art formed through creative friction. If this kind of strangeness external to the self could be a root from which art sprouts, then we could face the basic elements of the spatial installation. For example, issues of space, mass, and volume are more alien than the issues a painting faces. Since painting is pretty much a visual category of art, human vision encounters a great deal of repetition on the canvas, which leads to exhaustion and a failure to create new meaning in art. Space, mass, and volume in installation art all use human senses as sensory channels, which is not the case in the narrow and limited field of visual arts. So when we stand in front of an art installation, we truly feel the reality of its weight and texture. I must say that this sense of reality inherent in installation art does not exist in painting. Therefore, when facing installation art it fundamentally appeals to a never before experienced sensual strangeness. In this kind of new spirit of aesthetic perception, our senses are very easily “attacked” by the artwork, producing deeper sensations. Painting lacks feeling and focuses more on visual aspects. It must always be attached to a structure, and it, therefore, becomes a subsidiary vessel. Malevich’s Suprematism allows the existence of this kind of subsidiary nature to reflect on itself. This makes “art” a pure term that pursues self-expression.
In the early stages of Modernism, materials used for installation art were very simple. Its pureness was even reflected in the unity or standardization of the material’s dimensions. These aesthetic features were expressed in the materials. In fact, as I found Taiwanese plywood dimensions to be different from Western aesthetic standards, my Modernist installations achieved a regional quality. What’s more, because of this early conscious combination of regional aesthetics, my own works could stand as a painless declaration and advocacy of moral integrity, or for the dogmatic Modernist crowd for an invisible transition to a Postmodern way of thinking. Among all this, while installation forms have not changed, the artistic connotations of the works are poles apart.
(Organized by CHU, WEN-HAI)
After returning from studying abroad in Spain, I gave up an artistic expression that focuses on aesthetic expression. In addition to discovering traditional painting, I also discovered music (even my beloved rock music), performance, architecture, and so on. In that way, I thought about artistic expression from many perspectives. Thus, I made a breakthrough in traditional thinking about painting. At that time, it was precisely the period when Minimalism was most active in western modern art. My reflections on my own works were also initiated from this artistic context. Regarding using painting to express concepts of modernism at that time (for example, Lin Show-Yu and Hu Kun-Jung), I chose to enter from the aspect of “materiality” to explore a purer world of the modern spirit.
Compared to painting, which is predicated on relationships or connections between people and the outside world, the world expressed by “materials” eliminates intervention caused by human physicality. Materials are induced to speak for themselves. From a pure perspective, this expression excludes many contexts or modal interpretation that may occur in the external world. For this reason, we say that painting is a narrative form, while materials will always incline more towards the realm of concept. For this reason, I had to give up traditional painting and move towards a purer world of modernism.
However, during the process of conceptualizing art, modernism increasingly had a tendency to emphasize concepts and ignore works. My attitude and position on this aspect: “Art” is an activity that expresses personal concepts or emotions through “form”. Its linguistic mode is to speak through “form”. Therefore, if we are to mention a type of artistic concept, we should still emphasize the artistic concept as produced from a kind of “artistic form”, unlike previous artistic concepts. It should not cancel out or ignore artistic forms, but focus on the author’s concept. If the focus of conceptual art lies in the author’s mind, and not in the concepts manifested by the artwork, then “art” and “thinking” will not be able to be differentiated. Furthermore, we are not able to cross the unbridgeable gulf beyond reason through artistic events. Through this form of thinking that transcends rational human wisdom, we observe that the human intellect can produce a range of different things, rather than just traditional rational logic. Traditional rationality is a logical system that cannot be reversed. It has clear, stable, and ethical characteristics. On the contrary, in the art world, we pursue strange unfamiliarity. Thus, artists do not rely on logic thoughts (thinking is prone to inertia), but instead grasp particular forms that can be expressed in an unstable external world, and thereby become a kind of concept. For the time being, if we do not distinguish whether concepts in art exist in the works themselves or as a form of thinking, then there is at least one feature that can be found in an artwork. This feature is something that thought-based art cannot achieve. At the same time, this feature is also the ultimate foundation that lies in all artworks – “artistry”. For this, I must say that even if the materials that I express exclude narrative intervention, creating forms and speaking on their own, in this pure and simple world of silence, “artistry” is still inextricably contained within the forms of the work and is the ultimate basis of all artworks.
(Consolidated by CHU, WEN-HAI)