Sun, Nov 16, 2014 - Page 12 News List

Out of this world

Lu Mu-jen and Chiao Sheng-wei collaborate to create artwork inspired by aliens and creatures from earth — all in the hope of spreading a wider message of peaceful coexistence

By Dana Ter  /  Staff reporter

Chiao Sheng-wei and Lu Mu-jen, UFO Head No. 2 (2013).

Photo Courtesy of Association of the Visual Arts in Taiwan

Lu Mu-jen (呂沐芢) and Chiao Sheng-wei (焦聖偉) are childhood best friends and artists who are out of this world. Their collection of artwork depicting various alien, plant and animal life forms intertwined inside UFO-shaped single-celled organisms is currently on display at Frees Art Space (福利社) in Taipei’s Zhongshan District (中山).

When asked if they believe in aliens, both artists responded in the positive with blank looks on their faces which read, why is this question even being asked? Lu has never seen an alien in real life, but Chiao says he’s seen something that looked like a UFO when he was at graduate school in Greater Tainan. Despite their different experiences though, both artists steadfastly believe that life on other planets exist and use this as inspiration for their newest collection, the Euglena Program of Art.

COMMUNICATION IS KEY

The artists were putting the finishing touches on their latest addition to the collection, dabbing paint on their canvas in near-perfect sync as photographers snapped away and reporters scribbled in their notepads. Lu and Chiao never discuss what to paint beforehand. Their style is impromptu and organic — they simply pick up their brushes and see where the painting takes them.

“It’s like we are having a conversation with each other but with brush strokes, not words, and it’s exciting not knowing what the next brush stroke or what the end result will be” Lu said.

Communication is one of the key messages in their artwork. Within the earth itself there are numerous modes of communication, many of which are not discernible to the human eye or ear.

“Take dolphins for instance,” Lu said, referring to the dolphins in many of their paintings. “They are highly intelligent creatures who communicate through their sonar abilities.”

Exhibition Notes

What: Euglena Program of Art (眼蟲計畫)

Where: Frees Art Space (福利社), B1, 82, Xinsheng N Rd Sec 3, Taipei City (台北市新生北路三段82號B1)

When: Until Dec. 6

Admission: Free

On the net: euglena-art.blogspot.tw


Lu and Chiao’s logic is that just because humans cannot see, hear, touch, taste or feel something does not mean that it does not exist. Naturally, this logic extends to aliens and life on other planets — perhaps other-worldly creatures use other means of communication, and they have been trying to reach out to us, but we simply cannot detect their message.

The Euglena Program of Art is essentially Lu and Chiao projecting this logic onto canvas. As Chiao says, “no one can yet prove the existence of aliens, so we feel like we have to express it through art instead.”

OTHER-WORLDLY BUT DOWN-TO-EARTH

From afar, the Euglena Project of Art resembles colorful UFO heads. Up close, it’s more of a mish-mash of animals, organisms and elements thrown together — dolphins that swim upstream, cats that smoke cigars and aliens that sprout eagle-like wings. And yet — maybe it’s the random smiley faces interspersed throughout almost every painting — it just seems like everything is coexisting in perfect harmony, or at least, the different elements are trying to understand each other.

“We draw such animals and aliens altogether because they are all very smart creatures,” Lu said.

He adds that he and Chiao both grew up loving the abundance of nature in Taiwan and watching all sorts of television shows and movies. As a result, their art has been influenced by four main tenets: aliens, nature, environmental issues and human beings like Bruce Lee (李小龍) or Michael Jackson who have changed the world in a positive way.

“Such a combination is not possible in real life, but in art, it’s possible,” Chiao says, “therefore, our paintings represent a type of hope.”

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