Sun, Mar 27, 2005 - Page 19 News List

Exhibition draws on the importance of lines

Taipei Fine Arts Museum has compiled a four-category exhibition of works that explore the simplicity and importance of the line in art

By Susan Kendzulak  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

Pierre Alechinsky's Fenetre.

PHOTO COURTESY OF TFAM

As Taipei's alternative art spaces are disappearing and many galleries are feeling the pinch from the lackadaisical art market, the Taipei Fine Arts Museum proves to be the only place in town that consistently holds art exhibitions that are provocative, informative, educational and entertaining.

One such show is the in-house exhibition titled Depictions in Line and Form that combines its collection of Western and Eastern artwork on view until May 1.

Looking at the works from a distance, it is impossible to tell who had the larger influence. Were Western artists embracing Asian calligraphic styles when they were creating Modernist works or were Asian artists emulating European and American styles of painting? Instead of trying to resolve this conundrum, this display of paintings, prints and a few sculptures from the museum's vast collection provides a wonderful opportunity to see pure line and form in art.

In most of the works, the artist's energy and vitality is expressed through the line that is hand-drawn, etched, brushed or sculpted in the various media. The line in all its various permutations -- curvy, biomorphic, angular, thick, thin, geometric or sketchy -- conveys emotional intensity and may inspire the viewer to return home and pick up a brush.

Often, categories of art seem arbitrary. For didactic purposes, the exhibition is divided into four categories: "Tumultuous Worlds," "Traces in Time and Space," "Primal Nature" and "Urban Energy." The categories are a way to help the viewer decipher and try to understand the abstract lines and shapes on view.

Tumultuous Worlds

Grouped under the theme "Tumultuous Worlds," a set of four small-framed woodcuts by Jean Hans Arp sets the tone for the Modernist-style works that are arranged in the cavernous space. Arp's white curvy lines dance on a black background, creating a piece that is simultaneously playful, intimate and sensuous.

Renowned Taiwanese artist Max Liu (劉其偉) is represented by The Emergence of a Miracle, which is a sepia-toned watercolor with terracotta red lines and small dabs of black to give the appearance of some kind of spectral constellation and is a great example of a work that combines the Western Modernist vocabulary of gesture and form (it resembles a Miro painting) with Chinese calligraphic brush painting.

Pierre Alechinsky's series of lithographs titled Fenetre really stand out in the exhibition. As lithography is a slow process entailing several steps, this work is noteworthy in that the artist's hand-drawn lines with a dark grease pencil still seem immediate and freshly made. It is a work where the lusciousness of the material is conveyed very passionately.

Traces in Time and Space

Works that show motion are grouped under the theme "Traces in Time and Space." The famous Chinese artist Hsia Yang's (夏陽) Opening of an Exhibition contains geometric shapes signifying the canvases that hang in a gallery and sketchy lines for the people who mill about anonymously, so that the combination of the cold flat shapes contrasts with the quickly drawn lines.

Italian artist Lucio Fontana is known for his reductive canvases made in the early 1960s in which he slashed the surfaces with a knife, thus creating cut-away lines. It was controversial at the time to treat such a sacred surface as the artist's canvas with such violent gestural aggression.

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