Wed, May 26, 2010 - Page 15 News List

Stirring it up

Taiwanese artist Tsong Pu’s exhibit, Art From the Underground, presents more than 100 works of installation, painting and drawing spanning his 30-year career

By Noah Buchan  /  STAFF REPORTER

With the acrylic paintings, Tsong abandons graphite for chop-like grids of color or black and white. In one part of the exhibit’s 15-minute documentary, Tsong is shown carefully affixing these chops to a matrix of pre-drawn lines, a style evident in all his paintings.

In Chasing the Horizontal Across Space (橫向憑空追追追), each of the squares is stamped with these colored chops and overlaid with dabs of white paint. At certain points on the canvas, however, the vertical, horizontal and diagonal rows are disrupted by elements that resemble pixelation on a monitor.

Whereas many of the paintings reveal slight disjunctions in an overall geometrically cohesive framework, the installations emphasize the opposite by showing that fractured parts can make up a perfect whole.

Backyard in June (六月裡的後花園), for example, is a large installation on the gallery floor arranged in the shape of a disc. Within the circle, shards of terracotta brick are concentrically positioned around several points, each of which is topped with a hammer. From a distance, it resembles a perfect form. Up close, the viewer perceives the fragmented nature of the construction.

Tsong’s canvases and installations, with their struggle between perfection and imperfection, could serve as an emblem for the current controversy at TFAM. A target for the many interest groups it’s perceived to serve — government, artists, critics, galleries — each party assumes that the museum should live up to a different ideal of what a museum is supposed to be. And though TFAM has yet to “elevate” Tsong to the first floor, Art From the Underground offers an exemplary look at one of Taiwan’s top artists.

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