Taiwanese art galleries and museums present a forward-looking contemporary art scene that features Asian and Western art from emerging and established artists.
Art Radar spent four days in Taipei and Taichung visiting art galleries and museums, from 14 to 17 August 2012, and found an active and thriving contemporary art scene that embraces Asian and Western art in a wide range of media. Read on for our four-day art tour.
Tuesday | TAIPEI
On the first day touring art spaces in Taipei, Art Radar visited both young and established galleries. We ruminated on what was making a splash in the contemporary art scene and how the scene has evolved over the past twenty years.
Michael Ku Gallery
Michael Ku Gallery was showing the newest series of works from Indonesian artist Christine Ay Tjoe. Titled “The Path Less Found“, this was Ay Tjoe’s first solo exhibition in Taiwan. All eight works on display were oil on canvas, completed this year. Gallery owner Michael Ku revealed that, except for one piece that was sold to an Indonesian collector, all of the works were sold to Taiwanese buyers.
The next show at Michael Ku Gallery, a solo exhibition of contemporary Chinese artist Wei Jia, will open in September 2012. Ku said that the artist is very popular with Japanese collectors and hopes that Taiwanese collectors will also come to appreciate the artist’s works.
Gallery J Chen
Gallery manager Pei-Shih Ting said that the gallery strives to show and promote emerging contemporary Asian art and is particularly interested in showing work by Chinese, Japanese and Korean artists. Works in Song’s show were reportedly selling well, especially to buyers from the same generation as the artist (who was born in 1976) who identified with the artist’s subjects.
In December 2012, Gallery J Chen will be showing works from :phunk studio, a creative collective based in Singapore. The members of :phunk studio are Alvin Tan, Melvin Chee, Jackson Tan and William Chan. This will be the second collaboration between :phunk studio and Gallery J Chen, the first was in 2008.
Metaphysical Art Gallery
When Art Radar visited Metaphysical Art Gallery, it was in the midst of changing shows from a group exhibition titled “Confused, not Confused?” featuring abstract works based on the artists’ consciences to a show, titled “Endless Dots”, of canvas and sculpture works by Yayoi Kusama. “Confused, not Confused?” featured works by six contemporary Taiwanese and Chinese artists: Huang Ming-Che, Akibo Lee, Hsiao Chu-Fang, Liao Yu-An, Zhao Guang-Hui and Tao Wen-Yueh. “Endless Dots” will open in mid-September 2012 and run until the end of October.
Gallery owner and manager Celia Huang opened her gallery in 1989 and since then, she said, the contemporary art scene in Taiwan has become increasingly vibrant. She noted that many galleries in Taipei like to exhibit works by Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Southeast Asian artists on top of local artists. She recommended a visit to IT Park, a long-running non-profit Taipei art space in which, she said, many established Taiwanese artists got their start.
Eslite Gallery was showing Chinese contemporary artist Fu-Sheng Ku, an artist whom the gallery has worked with since its inception twenty years ago and whom it represents. Eslite Gallery’s public relations manager, Jenning King, shared that sales were within the gallery’s expectations, with smaller paintings selling better, and that the buyers were mostly Taiwanese.
When asked about Eslite Gallery’s future, King said that the gallery “places a strong focus on contemporary artists who are from the greater China region or with Chinese background”. She noted the importance of collaborating with established and emerging artists, and with curators and galleries from the rest of Asia, to expand the selection of art the gallery presents to its audience. Upcoming exhibitions at the gallery for the remainder of 2012 include works by Chinese artist Tommy Chen, Taiwanese artist Yi-Chen Hung, Japan-born Taiwanese artist Michael Lin and Taiwanese artist Su Wong-Shen.
Wednesday | TAIPEI
On the second day in Taipei, Art Radar visited two relatively new art spaces opened in mid-2010 and late 2008 respectively. We met the young founders who, in their thirties, are very involved in the day-to-day running of their galleries.
Mind Set Art Centre
Gallery founder Andre Lee said that the gallery usually works very closely with the exhibiting artist to curate shows. In this exhibition, the gallery was working with the Ho-Yi Culture and Art Foundation to showcase art by Gromaire and to publish a related book. Gromaire’s works were simultaneously exhibited at two other art spaces in Taiwan: Jamei Chen Gallery in Taipei and B.B.Art in Tainan.
Project Fulfil Art Space
Project Fulfil Art Space was showing installations and video works by contemporary Indonesian artist Jompet Kuswidananto. Almost all of the works on show were completed in 2012; the installation Long March to Java (#5) was completed in 2010.
Gallery owner and director Pei-Yu Lin said she had been in talks with the artist for two years to plan a solo exhibition for him in Taipei, and was very happy that the show was realised. Prices of the works ranged from USD4,000 for a single-channel video work titled On Asphalt I to USD20,700 for Contingent #1, an installation made of clothes, fibre resin and digital sounds and featuring three human-sized figures.
Thursday | TAICHUNG
Art Radar took a day trip to Taichung, a fifty-minute high speed rail ride from Taipei, to visit Asia’s largest art museum and to check out a very young art space that hopes to create a vibrant meeting place for Taichung’s art community.
National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts
With an indoor space of 38,000 square metres and an outdoor space of 100,000 square metres, the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts (NTMoFA) is the largest art museum in Asia. Art Radar visited three exhibitions held concurrently at the museum.
On display in “2012 National Art Exhibition, Republic of China (ROC)” were the 174 finalist pieces selected from 1000 entries, all of which were received from artists across Taiwan for the competitive art event. Gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded within a variety of categories including calligraphy, new media arts, photography, print-making, seal-carving and watercolour, Chinese ink, gouache and oil painting.
“International Biennial Print Exhibit: 2012 ROC” invited national and international artists to submit works for the promotion of printmaking and to encourage international cultural exchange. Submissions came not only from Taiwan or other countries in the Asian region, but also from countries as far away as Denmark and Czechoslovakia. The golden prize went to Thai artist Puttipong Prasarnphan for Lust Lust Lust Lust Lust Lust Lust Lust 2, a lithography made in 2011.
“Documentary XIII: The Kaleidoscopig Farm Cuckoo Clock” featured a video work by Taiwanese artist Wu Chang-Jung that fused together images and sound recordings of daily life on a pig farm. The kaleidoscopic video was projected on a series of connected screens that wrapped around a circular exhibition space, a permanent gallery in the Museum dedicated to the display of video and new media artworks.
Derive Art + Café Amarcord
Derive Art + Café Amarcord opened around four months ago and is located close to the NTMoFA. The space spreads across two stories, with a gallery on the first floor and a café on the second. Ming-Jiun Tsai, Exhibitions Curator, Administration Manager and one of four owners, told Art Radar that the space aims to bring both Taiwanese and foreign artists to Taichung audiences, featuring fresh contemporary art in all its manifestations, including performance, video and installation. Her ultimate goal is to open up the art scene in Taichung so those living in the city become more familiar with and accepting of conceptual art.
According to Tsai, the art space is working to create a space for the meeting of like minds to discuss art and collaborate on projects. She says,
We see this place more like a salon than a cafe…. We want to have meetings, workshops, screenings, performances. Everything about music, literature, films…. It’s more like a meeting room, a sitting room…. We are hoping that we become the place where art people come and share.
In the gallery, Taiwanese artists Yen-Ting Tseng, also known as Kappa, and Tao Chiang were busy rehearsing the space’s next exhibition, an object theatre piece called And So She Left Herself for Herself. On our way out, Art Radar was lucky enough to catch the tail end of their rehearsal. Both artists work in theatre, Tseng with lighting design and Tao with sound design, but this was their first foray into art collaboration.
When asked about the process of working as a sound artist, Tao said he would usually come up with a firm concept before he found the sounds for it. However, for this collaborative piece, he began by trying to find sounds that he thought might work with the narrative that Tseng was simultaneously attempting to write with objects. Tseng explained that in object theatre, the objects are manipulated like puppets on strings, and while there is no visible character, there is definitely a character in the narrative.
Friday | TAIPEI
On the last day of the art tour, back in Taipei, Art Radar visited one more gallery to look at the representation of Western art in Taiwan, before visiting two museums to round off the trip. Taipei continued to surprise with its wide range of contemporary art on this final leg of the art tour.
Kaikai Kiki Gallery
Kaikai Kiki Gallery Taipei, founded by Japanese mega-artist Takashi Murakami, was showing mixed media works by German artist Anselm Reyle. Art Radar sat down for a chat with sales manager Sophie Tseng. Tseng commented on the willingness of Asian collectors to invest in Western art as they become more familiar with it.
In Asia, the art market is focused mostly on Asian art. … Especially in Taiwan, everyone is more focused on local art, or Chinese or Southeast Asian art. … Taiwanese collectors are not very familiar with Western art because they have not been exposed to much Western art, if at all, in the Taiwanese or Asian art scene. … They have also traditionally been more conservative with their art investments, and may not be open to the idea of investing in Western art because of this unfamiliarity. … Of course, now that Gagosian Gallery and White Cube Gallery have arrived in Hong Kong, we see the Asian market slowly opening up to more Western art.
Kaikai Kiki Gallery also runs Hidari Zingaro, an offshoot of the parent gallery. While Kaikai Kiki Gallery aims to show works of international established artists in Taipei, Hidari Zingaro is dedicated to representing promising young artists. The offshoot recently started representing Bao-Qing Wang, a young Taiwanese artist, showing his works for the first time at Young Art Taipei. This three-day art fair, held at the Sheraton Hotel in Taipei in May 2012, was attended by sixty galleries from Taiwan and other countries, each showing and selling work by emerging artists below 45 years of age.
Taipei Fine Arts Museum
Art Radar ambled through two exhibitions at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum (TFAM): “Meet Taipei: Shanghai Oil Painting and Sculpture Exhibition” and “Beyond Gazing / Communion with the Permanent Collection“. The former featured, as the name suggests, oil paintings and sculptures from contemporary Shanghai artists. The latter showcased fifty pieces dated 1929 to 2009 from the museum’s permanent collection.
The permanent collection began with paintings featuring women in fashion wear from the 1930s to the 1960s by celebrated Taiwanese artists like Chen Chin and Chen Hui-Kun. There was also a special section showing works of centenarian Taiwanese artist Kuo Hsueh-Hu who passed away in early 2012.
Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei
Headlining at MOCA Taipei was a retrospective of film director King Hu‘s works called “King Hu: Renaissance Man“. Hu was born in Beijing, China but was based in Hong Kong and Taiwan before he passed away in 1997. In this exhibition, his films, film posters, sequences, scripts, storyboards, photos taken at costume-fittings and during production, as well as sketches and drawings of filming sites and designs, were used to create contemporary installations.
A smaller exhibition at MOCA Taipei titled “Ning Huang’s Video Journals“, showed a series of video works by young Taiwanese artist Ning Huang. In his videos, he uses fictional and non-fictional elements to pinpoint the moments in time when he entered new phases in his life.
Unexpectedly, artwork was also on show in the museum’s public bathrooms. For “Toilet Project Taipei“, Korean artist Meekyoung Shin placed Greek sculptures made of soap near the hand basins. When washing their hands, visitors were encouraged to rub the sculptures for soap. The project will end in October 2012 when the pieces, further sculpted by the public’s hands, will be collected and exhibited again as non-interactive art.
Share your Taiwan favourites with us!
On this trip, Art Radar merely scratched the surface of Taiwan’s thriving contemporary art scene. And, of course, we did not have time to peruse the offerings of other major cities like Tainan or Kaohsiung.
We want to know what else is out there! Share your favourite Taiwanese galleries, art museums and spaces with us in the comment section below.
- The (potential) power of art: China’s soft power push – August 2012 – does China have ulterior motives behind its cultural push?
- Taiwanese painter Lien Chien Hsing’s fictional reality – picture feast – July 2012 – see Lien’s seventeenth solo exhibition as he returns Taiwan to nature
- Taipei Fine Arts Museum director appointed after 2 years of controversy – July 2012 – read about Huang Hai-Ming becoming director, a position left empty for two years
- Emerging Taiwanese sound artist addresses environmental issues – interview with Hsu Yen-Ting – June 2012 – the artist discusses whether art can be used to raise awareness of pressing societal issues
- What is ahead for contemporary Asian art, 2012 and beyond? Part II – January 2012 – What are the changes to contemporary art galleries in Asia in the past decade?
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