Sun, Dec 26, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Thinking outside the 'white cube'

By Diana Freundl  /  STAFF REPORTER

Yuan Jai's View to Peony (2004).

PHOTO COURTESY OF TAIPEI FINE ARTS MUSEUM

"White cube" refers to the neutral, well-lit area in a museum or gallery where works are displayed. This concept stems from the design of public museums in Europe during the 19th century.

Like art, the spatial design of museums has evolved over time. Bright lights and white walls have been modified and new rooms, such as black boxes for viewing video and photograph installations, have emerged. Likewise, curators have developed alternative ways to exhibit non-Western modern art.

The Yellow Box: Contemporary Calligraphy and Painting in Taiwan demonstrates 10 new and creative ways of exhibiting contemporary Chinese painting. Hong Kong-based curator, Chang Tsong-zung (張頌仁), showcases works from five Taiwanese artists, in addition to a group of interior designers and architects who developed his "yellow box" concept. Together they provide an original and innovative way to view Taiwanese contemporary calligraphy and painting.

The most exceptional part of this exhibition is not the art but the way it is displayed. Divided into five rooms, the works are presented using 10 different formats based on Chang's original yellow-box sketches. At the exhibition preview, Chang said he chose the artists in the show because "together [they] provide an indication of the wide range and liveliness of Taiwan's contemporary Chinese calligraphy and painting."

Yuan Jai's (袁旃) View to Peony uses the conventions of Chinese flower and bird painting but combines this with other mediums such as paper cuttings. Most of Yuan's works are in the garden room filled with bamboo chairs and blinds.

In a separate room, Hsu Yu-jen's (許雨仁) landscape paintings are hung at an angle rather than against the wall, which creates more depth.

The large window at the back of the room has been covered by a partition wall with three smaller windows in the shapes of a circle, a square and a Chinese fan. A large bed with tatami mats has also been built and positioned against the window where visitors can sit and peruse the scrolls and folding books displaying the works of Hsu Kuo-huang (許郭璜).

Near the entrance to the exhibit are 12 scrolls by Yu-peng (于彭) hanging at an angle to resemble a folding fan. Yu-peng's work is arguably one of the best representations of contemporary Chinese painting, but his most interesting contribution to the exhibit is the Common Room.

The room is a working studio where Yu-peng invites visitors to paint, write or chat with him while he works.

According to an employee at the museum, who cited a report published in a popular European art journal, a person spends an average of 30 seconds looking at one painting in a museum. Chang's exhibition, however, offers innovative ways to entice visitors to step inside the box and extend their viewing experience.

Exhibition notes:

What: The Yellow Box: Contemporary Calligraphy and Painting in Taiwan (黃盒子 -- 台灣當代書畫展)

Where: Gallery 3A at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum (台北市立美術館) located at 181 Zhongshan N Rd, Sec 3, Taipei (臺北市中山北路3181).

Telephone: (02) 2595 7656

When: 9:30am to 5:30pm, Tuesday to Sunday (closed Mondays). Until Feb. 27, 2005.

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