Beyond The Hidden
Cellist and founder of ISM Pâtisserie.
It seems that the world has emerged from the shadow of the pandemic, but where are we heading after the devastation of the old world? What will the new world at the end of the tunnel be like? Perhaps this exhibition “Beyond the Hidden” curated by Artemin Gallery can inspire us.
Since the Enlightenment movement of the 17th century, humanity has gradually moved away from the theological confines of the Middle Ages, initiating the process of modernization in thought. Significant strides in experimental science and deepening rational thought have led people to weigh the values of “humanity” and “religion.” This period witnessed the development of systematic methodologies such as verification and reasoning, giving birth to philosophical debates between empiricism and rationalism by thinkers like René Descartes, Francis Bacon, and later Immanuel Kant. Even more recently, discussions and speculations regarding empiricism and rationalism by physicists like Albert Einstein have never ceased.
In the realm of music, the 17th-century German composer Johann Sebastian Bach, influenced by the Enlightenment, made brilliant use of harmony and counterpoint techniques, opening a luminous chapter in Western “polyphonic music,” which we now know as “classical music.” The dominance of rationalism during that era indeed propelled human civilization forward.
The work of Taiwanese artist Wu Tung-Lung has long been defined as “abstract” and “minimalist” due to its iconic use of geometry, color blocks, lines, and symbols. The composition on the canvas is imbued with a sense of self-awareness about rationality. Even the handling and layering of the background colors in his works contain elements of scientific experimentation, hypothesis, and verification. The presentation of the refined images seeks simplicity and harmony, similar to mathematical theorems like the Pythagorean theorem (a² + b² = c²) or Einstein’s famous mass-energy equivalence formula (E = mc²), both elegant, harmonious, yet abstract.
However, just as in music, where rigorous and thoughtful structural forms may be present, the essence of artistic creation ultimately aims to convey the artist’s unique perspective on emotions, humanity, and life. Each precisely notated note on a musical score represents the aggregation and flow of thoughts, consciousness, viewpoints, and emotions over time. The meaning of musical notes lies in the expression of consciousness and emotions.
Isn’t this also true in Tung-Lung’s works? The application of background colors, contemplation of symbols, arrangement of lines, and the use of white space all involve dialogue and dialectic with aesthetics beneath the surface of “minimalism.” Beyond being a mere artistic form, “minimalism” can be seen as a form of liberation in the face of oneself.
During the process of abstraction and reduction, we move away from the concrete, and the word “abstract” enters our minds. This sometimes makes people feel bewildered or intimidated when confronted with such work. Not to mention modern art, even classical music has long faced similar challenges. Music is an art of time, inherently abstract, comprised solely of seven notes: Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Si. Melodies and harmonies are constructed from these notes, and the appearance and disappearance of musical sounds happen within seconds, intangible and invisible, making it difficult for our five senses to grasp.
Especially in an educational environment that often pursues definitive answers, we may feel frustrated and lost when appreciating abstract works but cannot find matching answers in our minds. Thoughts like “abstract art is too difficult, I don’t understand” are not uncommon. But let’s listen to what the writer Shen Congwen had to say.
The late writer Shen Congwen once described listening to the pianist Fu Ts’ong’s performance in a letter: “The emotions and images conveyed by a few simple notes, I don’t know how many words it would take me to write or describe.” Indeed, different forms of artistic expression transform and manifest an artist’s individual consciousness. When listening to music, consciously or subconsciously, we project our emotional experiences onto the flowing melody. Emotional experiences are universal phenomena within human society, differing only in the scenes that trigger these emotions for each individual. Thus, whether in music, visual art, dance, or other forms of creative expression, artists create and provide us with an opportunity for “recreation.” Especially in the realm of “abstraction,” the scope for this “recreation” is unparalleled.
Tung-Lung’s creations have a profound yet delicate touch and coordination. From a distance, we see a dialogue between color blocks, symbols, and lines, but upon closer inspection, the uniform, consistent, and peaceful background color reveals its vitality. It’s akin to seeing the vast ocean from an airplane versus walking along the shore. It’s the same ocean and artwork, but a different distance, time, and space, where you may also discover a different aspect of yourself.
The next time you view Tung-Lung’s works, don’t rush to bring your knowledge to bear. Just pause, gaze, and feel. Let the painting before your eyes open to your inner subconscious world. Have a conversation with yourself and kindly inquire about your feelings.
The beauty of music lies not in individual notes but in the distances between notes, projecting our desire for emotions as time guides the melody. Similarly, in Tong-Long’s visual art, the value lies in how he makes various aspects visible on the canvas and in the freedom it offers you in perception and the opportunity to see yourself in the present moment.
Beyond the Hidden | Tung-Lung Wu
Date: 2023/09/16 – 10/21
Opening Reception: 2023/09/16｜15：00
Gallery Address: Artemin Gallery (No. 32, Ln. 251, Jihe Rd., Shilin Dist., 111, Taipei City, Taiwan)
15 9 月, 2023