Thu, Jun 15, 2006 - Page 15 News List

Something old, something new

Two exhibitions in Taipei this week explore how traditional art and motifs can be updated, sometimes with delightful results

By Ginger Yang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Fighting Cocks by Li Chi-mao.

PHOTO COURTESY OF CATHAY UNITED BANK GALLERY

When the East Meets West is more than a cliche to describe the works featured in the Brush Painting Joint Exhibition by the Four Gentlemen (墨彩四君子 -- 水墨聯展) currently showing at the Cathay United Bank Gallery (國泰世華藝術中心). The show contains works by Li Chi-mao (李奇茂), Huang Kuang-nan (黃光男), Yuan Chin-ta (袁金塔) and Lin Chang-hu (林章湖 ), who all put their own spin on the traditional themes of Chinese painting.

Li exploits aspects of traditional Chinese art in his modernistic works, using large blocks of color and broad brushstrokes to create semi-abstract paintings that are hugely dynamic. His painting of two fighting cocks spans the distinctions between modernist and traditional painting. He is also an evocative painter of street scenes, using traditional Chinese painting techniques to depict the lives of ordinary people.

Huang, formerly the curator of the the Taipei Fine Arts Museum (台北市立美術館) and National Museum of History (歷史博物館), is the principal of Taipei National University of the Arts (台北藝術大學). One of his trademarks is the integration of large blocks of geometric color, usually red and black, which are then set off by highly traditional elements such as glimpses of a plumb tree or chicks feeding. The effect is of playfulness.

Yuan's choice of canvas, which can sometimes be as simple as a piece of photocopied A4 paper, is very unconventional. Over the photocopied elements he adds layers of color, combining different media such as ink, water color and crayon.

Lin is currently the dean of the art department of Taipei National University of the Arts (台北藝術大學). He is the most detail-conscious artist in this exhibition, and he uses some very untraditional dye techniques to give his traditionally inspired works a subtle shift in emphasis.

On show at the National Museum of History, Old Jades with New Designs and Restored Elegance (古玉新風華), brings a modern spirit to traditional design.

This exhibition presents more than 140 jade pieces embellished with new settings by Chang Cheng-fen (張正芬). The jade has been collected over many years from auctions and antique shops, and Chang has sought to add to their luster with other precious materials, including ruby, emerald, diamond, crystal and green jadeite. These new settings don't always improve the beauty of the jade, but fortunately, in most cases, the settings can be removed.

Chang said that collecting the jade developed her personality, because there is a power within the jade.

What: Brush Painting Joint Exhibition by the Four Gentlemen (墨彩四君子 -- 水墨聯展)

Where: The Cathy United Bank Gallery (國泰世華藝術中心) 7F, 236 Dunhua N Rd, Taipei (台北市敦化北路 2367 ).

When: Through July 1; open: 10am until 6pm

What: Old Jades With New Designs and Restored Elegance (古玉新風華)

Where: National Museum of History (國立歷史博物館), 49 Nanhai Rd, Taipei (台北市南海路 49號)

When: Through July 16; open: 10am until 6pm

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