Complete Works of Contemporary Art in Taiwan


Complete Works of Contemporary Art in Taiwan

Following the traces left behind.

Hsieh Tung-Shan / Curator

Hong-gah was proud to present “Complete Works of Contemporary Art in Taiwan”, a large-scale survey exhibition introducing the recent 20-year transition and dynamics of New Art in Taiwan, documenting works by various artists according to the simultaneously published book Contemporary Art in Taiwan (1980-2000) by the Artist Magazine. The aim was to offer the public a glimpse of the contemporary Taiwan through the sampling of artworks exhibited, leaving out critique and judgment of taste and style.

This exhibition contained of 2 series: Firstly, “Minority Report” demonstrated the neo-dada, arte povera, neo-expressionism, graffiti, neo-imagism, landscape, light and space, performance art… etc.; Followed by the second series “Love in Secret”, the spectrum of artworks exhibited span from installation, realism, postmodernism, neoclassicism, deconstructivism, indigenous, feminism… etc. Medium applied comprised of painting, video recording, mixed media,… etc.

The two series of exhibition were in an expedient reference to the classification of Western Art History considering international and cultural differences. Thus, artworks comprised in Series I “Minority Report” belonged to the school of 70s & 80s American post-minimalism, taking up the form of pure art or serious art, which could be seen as the manifestation of Taiwan’s purist avant-garde and radical avant-garde. Furthermore, sharing common interests with the 80s & 90s American and European art, artworks selected in Series II “Secret in Love” probed into questions such as multi-culture, post-colonialism, decentering etc., as well as inquiring into the aspects of everyday life, resulting in the sketching of Taiwan’s post-avant-garde and spectacle avant-garde contours. We are convinced that after a trip through the Series II exhibition, audiences who have always kept avant-garde art at arm’s length would, at once, secretly fall in love with contemporary art, with an inclination toward those of Taiwan.

Since the 80s, arts making in Taiwan had sought connection with the international, entering into the “global time” in global arts making. Looking at Taiwan Art History before the mid-80s, we could learn that art in Taiwan was still contained in the national bound, where the international exchange were still in a nonequivalent condition, for modern art was constantly imported from the US and European countries, while the local art works that could draw foreign attractions were only those from ancient times such as the collections in the National Palace Museum. After the mid-80s, swift incoming information along with rapid increases in the number of art graduates and students studying art abroad had closed up the gap between local and international art development, engendering a comprehensive international development in the Taiwan academic art during the late 90s.

Due to the restriction of space, the selection of artists and their works from each classification was obliged despite the exhibition title of “Complete Works”. However, it was still hoped that this exhibition could open up a window for the public to look into the whole picture of contemporary art in Taiwan.

Hand in hand with this exhibition is the publishing of Contemporary Art in Taiwan (1980-2000) by the Artist Magazine, providing a mapping of the past two decades of contemporary art in Taiwan, and also serving as a guide through the exhibition for wider public understanding.

Looking back at the drastic change during these 20 years, avant-garde in Taiwan had toiled its way from underground to aboveground, and eventually found its place today in the high halls of arts, as well as converging with the Western mainstream of avant-garde practice. The underground-ness of early stage avant-garde in Taiwan was the cause for poor artworks conservation, leading to the artists’ re-make and re-production during this exhibition. As for the performance art works or outdoor exhibitions, artists had provided archives such as photographs, sketches, instruction manuals, posters……etc. to lead us back reviewing those historical moments.