Taiwanese digital photographer Wu Tien-chang’s figures are limbless and costumed

TAIWANESE CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAPHY ARTIST PROFILE

Taiwanese photographer and digital artist Wu Tien-chang has been profiled on the government-run Taiwan Culture Portal. In an article titled Wu Tien-chang’s digital artworks seek the essence of Taiwan’s soul, writer Yali Chen explains the social motivations behind the artist’s vibrant and often unsettling works.

Wu Tien-chang, 'Never Relax Morning and Night', 2008, digital print, 240 x 401 cm. Image from maintrendgallery.com.

Wu Tien-chang, 'Never Relax Morning and Night', 2008, digital print, 240 x 401 cm. Image from maintrendgallery.com.

Click here to read the article in its entirety at Taiwan Culture Portal.

According to the article, Wu Tien-chang (b. 1956) held his first New York solo, called “Shock Shot”, last year (October 2010) at Soho Photo Gallery. Art historian and photographer Joan Lebold Cohen was the curator of the show in which eight of the artist’s huge “digital paintings” were on display. Wu’s fascination with aspects of some Taiwanese religions, namely reincarnation and karma, could be seen in these works,

The dead are obsessed with the mortal world, [Wu] said, adding that this sentimental attachment is a recurring theme in his paint-photographs, which look at once mysterious, hilarious, weird and haunting.

Wu Tien-chang's 'Show the Mutual Concern of the People in the Same Boat' (2002), exhibited in "Shock Shot", Soho Photo Gallery, New York, October 2010. Image from culture.tw.

Wu Tien-chang's 'Show the Mutual Concern of the People in the Same Boat' (2002), exhibited in "Shock Shot", Soho Photo Gallery, New York, October 2010. Image from culture.tw.

Other influences include work by prominent Taiwanese photographer Juan I-jong that is showcased in the book, The History of Chinese Photography, which “discusses how people in late 19th- and early 20th-century China worried that a camera’s flash would capture their souls,” as well as local social concerns such as the country’s shifting identity.

‘Taiwan has a replacement culture which I hope to discuss and criticise in my works.’ … Wu explains that Taiwan is a conglomeration of many different cultures – Aboriginal, Dutch, Japanese, Chinese and Taiwanese – … where one culture replaces, or is superimposed on, previously existing cultures. … The ruling Kuomintang government has viewed Taiwan as its temporary location since 1949, he says, adding that many immigrants [are] like a flower with no roots…. ‘This is why it is difficult to establish any sense of identity.’

Wu Tien-chang, 'Sayonara', 1994, mixed media on canvas, 128.5 x 109 cm. Image from ravenel.com.

Wu Tien-chang, 'Sayonara', 1994, mixed media on canvas, 128.5 x 109 cm. Image from ravenel.com.

Originally an oil painter, Wu Tien-chang, now 55, discovered digital manipulation and drawing at the age of 43, working with, as the article explains, a “combination of portrait photography and processing using computer graphics software.” During his artisitc career, “his subjects have … shifted every ten years, from political figures to women and then to elaborately costumed figures that are wounded, blind or missing limbs.”

Wu Tien-chang, 'In love with secular world', 1997, mixed media, 160 x 221 cm. Image from ntmofa.gov.tw.

Wu Tien-chang, 'In love with secular world', 1997, mixed media, 160 x 221 cm. Image from ntmofa.gov.tw.

KN/HH

Related Topics: Taiwanese artists, new media art, photography

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