策展人：王嘉驥 Chia Chi Jason WANG
What Is & What Will Be, I：J. C. KUO, SU Wong-Shen, and Jiunshyan LEE
What Is & What Will Be, II：Hai-Hsin HUANG, CHOU Tai-Chun, and YEN Yu-Ting
Curated by Chia Chi Jason WANG
After martial law was lifted in 1987, Taiwanese contemporary painting experienced a buoyant surge in creativity, vigorously reflecting the current conditions of society and politics by means of criticism and deconstruction. Yet despite structural reforms, since the dawn of the 21st century Taiwanese partisan politics have become ever more fervently polarized, with struggle and strife among different political interests and ideologies rising to historically unprecedented levels. Quite clearly, society has not moved in the direction of a bright tomorrow. Recently, numerous incidents in civil society have even underscored that the Taiwanese people have descended into anarchic disorder and a mindset of hopelessness.
In the realm of art, many senior artists have still continued to focus concern on Taiwan’s political, economic and social issues. Yet beginning in the late 1990s, an “otaku” style of art – agoraphobic and self-absorbed – came into vogue among the younger generation who grew up in the post-martial law era. Prone to navel-gazing, drawing warmth from their own private realities or hiding in certain locales, they have been loath to confront social or political maladies head-on, forming a stark contrast with the generation before them.
Recently, however, Taiwanese politics has collapsed with exceptional swiftness. Society is beset with troubles within and without. While China’s economy waxes, Taiwan’s wanes, and the gap is rapidly widening, worsening the people’s state of panic. Seeking to force the passage of a cross-strait trade agreement, Taiwan’s officials unintentionally gave birth to the unprecedented March 18 Student Movement of 2014. The Legislative Yuan became the site of occupation by protesting students for more than 20 days. The Cabinet Building even fell into their hands for a time. The awakening of students to harsh reality spurred numerous young artists to engage with the same issues in their art. Be this as it may, from what may be observed in recent years, the phenomenon of young artists disconnecting themselves from social and political subjects in their paintings is still severely pronounced. The tendency toward creative anemia is abundantly clear. Even though the student movement generated a certain effect, in the short term it has not been reflected in paintings of depth.
Concentrating on creations in the medium of paint, “What Is & What Will Be” holds the curatorial aspiration of scrutinizing how Taiwanese artists have responded to Taiwan’s recent circumstances and discovered their own perspectives, interpretations and even fears regarding Taiwan’s current state and its future. In order to more conveniently view the disparity between generations, the first segment of the exhibition focuses on the senior artists J.C. KUO (born 1949), SU Wong-Shen (born 1956) and Jiunshyan LEE (born 1957). All are major representative painters who have long been observing the changes in Taiwanese society since the lifting of martial law. The second segment features the young artists Hai-Hsin HUANG (born 1984), CHOU Tai-Chun (born 1986) and Yu-Ting YEN (born 1980). All are rising stars of Taiwanese painting who have entered the field following the “academization” of contemporary art. Worth mentioning is that women artists of the older generation have relatively seldom directly addressed political or social issues, but in the younger generation this is less the case, as more women artists – for example, Hai-Hsin Huang and Yu-Ting Yen in this exhibition – are bravely pondering this realm of discourse and making contributions to it. This is a trend worthy of attention and encouragement.