Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Beyond China: the 'Beautiful Island'


Lo Ch’ing’s diptych: Cities of Myriad Lights

With all the talk about mainland China (the People's Republic of China) recently, Ilha Formosa ('beautiful island' as the Portuguese named it) or Taiwan (the Republic of China) is often forgotten as an alternative model for Chinese society. Taiwan's economic boom began decades before Mao's China, something completely ignored by mainland Chinese who typically hold 'communism' and particularly Mao Zedong as the main catalysts for the strength and economic power of China today. In stark contrast with mainland China, Taiwan's economic boom was also followed by dramatic political and environmental changes. While it might have been a bumpy ride and no country is free of any sin, Taiwan today is a democracy (I lived in Taiwan during the first free and open elections in Chinese history of a mayor, a president, and later the first election of a president from an opposition party). Taiwan's citizens enjoy access to media from all around the globe and from many competing and critical voices, unlike the Great Firewall and almost complete control of all media by China's totalitarian regime. Religion in Taiwan is strong and its citizens enjoy Religious Freedom and other civil liberties. It is a bastion of traditional Chinese culture as well as its own uniquely hybrid cultures. In terms of Taiwan's environmental improvements, especially in the last few years, it is light years ahead of their "communist" neighbor. While its art scene has received less notice than China's, it also has its share of great movie directors (Ang Lee, Tsai Ming-liang, Edward Yang, Hou Hsiao-Hsien) and visual artists.

I am lucky enough to be able to call two of the artists
mentioned in the article below friends - Lo Ch'ing, one of my former professors and one of the most well known Taiwanese poets and painters, and Yu Peng, an old friend who I greatly admire. On a magical evening on my last trip to Taiwan in 2008, my students and another professor and I were able to visit Yu Peng's classical Chinese style garden/home/art studio near the National Palace Museum. We sat around on Chinese style tatami mats with Yu Peng behind a large tea table, shared cups of Pu-erh tea, fine wines, and a Taiwanese delicacy, botargo or taiwan: fish eggs, while listening to Guqin music surrounded by Yu Peng's artworks and his collection of Chinese antiques... ahh, it was as if a dream...).

Michael Goedhuis presents

Beyond China: The New Ink Painting from Taiwan,

30 October - 27 November
Opening Reception Friday, 30 October 2009
6 – 8 PM at Carlton Hobbs, 16 Bloomfield Terrace, London

LONDON – Michael Goedhuis invites you to the opening reception of an ambitious group exhibition entitled Beyond China: The New Ink Painting from Taiwan on Friday, 30th October 2009, as part of the preeminent annual constellation of Asian cultural events – Asian Art in London.

'Beyond China' is an ambitious exhibition of ten contemporary artists from Taiwan, all of whom represent the best of the New Ink Painting—the contemporary expression of the classical brush and ink style developed over the centuries. This exhibition highlights some of the most significant work being done by the most distinguished practitioners of the New Ink Painting beyond the Chinese mainland.

The works of these artists range from the neo-classical to the avant-garde and from those who have long been internationally established (Liu Kuo-sung, Tong Yangtze, Yuan Jai, Lo Ch'ing, Yu Peng, Ho Huai
-shuo) to the emerging younger generation of brilliant exponants (Fay Ku, Pan Hsin-hua, Yao Jui-Chung, and Chun-yi Lee). Each with their own distinct style, these artists represent different trends in the development of contemporary Chinese ink painting.

Ink painting, as expressed in calligraphy and monumental landscape painting, is the foundation stone of Chinese culture. While this tradition was interrupted in Mainland China because of the Cultural Revolution, Taiwan has benefited from an unbroken link with China's cultural past.

In the past three decades, Taiwan has experienced enormous technological and economic development, which has in turn prompted its artists to search for ways to convert their culture's traditional aesthetic into work that is relevant to the contemporary world. While all of these artists have benefited from a rigorous foundation in the brush and ink tradition, they have evolved in different adventurous ways to express the reality of modern Asia with a new pictorial language.

For images of works featured in this exhibition, please access our website: www.michaelgoedhuis.com.

For further inquiries or information please contact
Michael Goedhuis (+1 212 535 6954 / michael@goedhuiscontemporary.com),
Thea Buen (+1 212 535 6954 / thea@goedhuiscontemporary.com),
or Jennifer Bailey (+44 (0) 207 823 1395 / london@michaelgoedhuis.com).

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