Wu Tung-lung (吳東龍) would rather hear about his works than talk about them. Even quoting other people, he doesn’t say much.
“Some people think my paintings describe a feeling, like a feeling they had a long time ago … Other people see animals,” he says, slowly sipping from a straw at a coffee franchise in Taipei.
Just back from a six-month residency at Cite Internationale des Arts in Paris, the somewhat reticent 32-year-old painter will be showing 14 of his most recent works at VT Art Salon (非常廟藝文空間) beginning on Saturday.
Wu hopes the show will attract attention to paintings that exude “tradition” and “elegance.”
It probably will. Big-seller Impressions Gallery (印象畫廊) has been exhibiting Wu’s work recently and his older brother, Wu Dar-kuen (吳達坤), is one of eight established Taiwanese artists who opened VT, the bar-cum-gallery that will host his largest solo exhibition to date.
Though born and raised in Taipei, Wu developed his current style while a graduate student at Tainan National University of the Arts (國立台南藝術大學) six years ago. After years of obediently learning the realism advanced by his junior high, high school and undergraduate instructors, the secluded campus and relaxed atmosphere in Tainan allowed him more time to think for himself, and he gladly abandoned the formalist style he’d developed up to then.
“I thought about which parts I didn’t need, and if I didn’t need something, I deleted it. What was left was what I really, really needed. And it’s this.”
Life in Tainan didn’t “delete” Wu’s metropolitan flavor. Muted regal colors and simple, enigmatic patterns meet in works that seem carefully designed to hang well in an affluent Taipei East District living room. The pieces are unobtrusive and unapologetically decorative. They almost seem therapeutic.
To his credit, Wu doesn’t shy away from listing artists he admires: Mark Rothko, Frank Stella, Cy Twombly. All three now elderly or dead Americans, their works are famous for requiring time to appreciate. Museums have been criticized for showing Rothkos without a bench on which to rest and appreciate them from.
Wu’s paintings ask for a similar contemplation, as does the artist himself. He speaks with a grandfatherly patience when discussing his paintings.
“I like to spend time with my works, not [only] to make them, but in the studio or gallery,” he says, composing himself between sentences. “I try to pretend I’m not a painter … I try to feel them.”
For people who can’t afford to own one of Wu’s paintings, his show at VT might be their best option. Comfortable seats and drinks are available at the adjoining bar, and aside from weekends there usually aren’t crowds to keep you from dragging a chair into the gallery to sit and ponder what’s beneath the surface of these seemingly simplistic paintings.
There may be more there than one might think.
“I’m a very emotional person,” Wu says.
What: Wu Tung-lung Solo Exhibition (吳東龍個展)
Where: VT Art Salon (非常廟藝文空間), B1, 47 Yitong St, Zhongshan Dist, Taipei City (台北市中山區伊通街47號地下一樓)
When: Opening Saturday at 7pm. The show runs through Oct. 25. VT Art Salon is open Tuesdays through Thursdays, from 2pm to 11pm, and Fridays and Saturdays, from 2pm to 1am
Tickets: Admission is free
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