Whitestone Taipei is proud to present you the traveling exhibition of Asian abstract art – “Painting and Existence”. For this time, we are connecting Gutai art association from Japan who upraised after World War II with Korean monochrome and abstract painting that emerges in the late 80 of China. Being the second stop of the traveling exhibition, we have feature different artists from our first stop at Tang Contemporary Art Gallery. We wish to bring a variety of aspects into Taipei.

Gutai art association represents the art scene in Japan after world war II. Gutai artists were highly influenced by Expressionism of the west. They broke down the traditional form of painting, reconstructed the image and transcended the physical form into spiritual representation. They treated their creative processes as performances where they would discover the dialogue between materiality and its surrounding. Female artist, Atsuko Tanaka, as one of the prominent figure of Gutai art association, presented her “Electric Dress” in 1956 and excited the international art scene. She put her bright line and circles on the flat surface of paper in large size canvas to express the vibration between human and object. Tsuyoshi Maekawa, inspired by the patterns on the ancient pottery found in Ueno, Japan, stitched linen on to the flat canvas and then applied plentiful of color on his works. He dedicated his whole life to the materiality of linen which has become the signature of Tsuyoshi Maekawa.

At the same time in South Korea, in the unsettling period of 50s, Kim Whanki, as the most important abstract artist in Korean modernism, he focused his works on country landscape. By applying traditional Korean elements including celadon, white porcelain, ink, and natural landscapes, the simple monochrome composition and repeated brushstrokes laid the very foundation for later Korean abstraction. For instance, in 1970, Yun Hyongkeun was inspired by Kim as well as Korean calligrapher Kim Jong-ho, diluting pigments with turpentine to create the similar effect of traditional ink dying on rice paper. In the same manner, Chung Sanghwa utilised kaolinite to mix with water and glue to allow even application on the canvas. When the mixture is dry, he would remove the canvas from the frame and draw lines all over at the back of the canvas. He folded the canvas according to the lines that he has drawn to allow the solidified mixture to crack naturally for it to be removed piece by piece and filled with acrylic. Differ from the post-war western minimalism, through modern technology and mechanical operation, these artists expressed the pure visual effect without the subjective impression of industrial paints. Instead, these Korean monochrome artists used repeated hand labor to unify the visual image and spirit.

Chinese abstract art started after the Reform and Opening in the 1980’s. Artists liberated themselves from propaganda and social realism artistic formation. Highly influenced by western philosophy and aesthetic, they began to discover their own culture in art through imitation and referencing. Ding Yi was considered to be the pioneer of Chinese abstract art. Both the character — “十” — and the variant —”X” — are the primary symbols used in his series of works . His works not only transcend but also confront the classic political and social fable paintings of China at the time. In 2000, Zhu Jinshi returned to painting. However, his impasto was to antagonize painting itself. By layering paint one by one, he created a thick color block which in return has a sculptural visual effect. By unpacking the concept of abstraction of the 1980s, a new chapter of Chinese abstract art was beginning to emerge.

The purpose of the exhibition is to show and analyze the development of abstract art in East Asia by providing the audiences with a list of important abstract artists found after World War II. The Taipei exhibition will be featured from August 24 to October 6th @ Whitestone Gallery Taipei. After that, the exhibition will continue as it returns to Tang Contemporary Art Gallery in September 2020.

Represented artists:
Chen Wenji, Yu Youhan, Ding Yi, Shang Yang, Tan Ping, Zhu Jinshi, Atsuko Tanaka, Tsuyoshi Maekawa, Su Fan Oh, Myeung Ro Youn, Sang Hwa Chung, Chong Hyun Ha, Kim Whanki