Gallery for Citizens At Ease with Nature—Solo Exhibition of Tsai Shih-mei

2021.08.14 - 2021.10.11 KMFA Gallery B01

As the Sun and the Moon alternate with the stars disappearing and appearing in the sky, time is also passing by secretly. In nature, there a numerous variety of scenes and things that objectively exist and occupy spaces of extremely varying sizes. Even though we can visit them in their spaces through our imagination, we cannot help but feel the absence of something solid and substantive to hold or grasp in the imaginative world. Moreover, our physical senses are often preoccupied with the superficial appearance of the world, leading us to the misconception that what we perceive in front of us is representative of what the world is all about.
What we see is what we feel. However, there is no fixed form or shape to what we can see. When we close our eyes, we can still see the world either at such a close range that everything seems right in front of our faces with such overwhelming clarity and repetitive, nearly tedious details or from such a long distance that we can only see the merged contours of everything in the scenery as a whole with the boundaries among things in the scenery and between the scenery and us all blurred up.
When I am immersed in my artistic creation, it seems that I am traveling among different gaps of time where a lush forest at dusk can be instantly turned into a dry land with withered trees. Verdant trees are verdant tress as white clouds are white clouds. However, they can be more than what they are as they can be extended to form the prototype of the scenery of a deep forest shrouded in clouds and mists, a common sight at the top of a high mountain which always gazes at the other mountains in the rapid transition of four seasons.
The dwindling sand beach, the approaching coastline, and the residual warmth of a setting sun on wave breakers. Amid the sounds of swashing ocean waves, these three things in reality constitute the perpetual moment of people waiting on a long coastal dyke, waiting for their beloved ones to come back or waiting to return to their hometowns. All the changes and non-changes are the two sides of the same coin of eternity. Picture yourself in a forest. The branches with leave buds in front of your eyes are what they are now after countless winters and summers. Underneath the lush leaves and sprawling branches in different periods of time, the inner cycle of causality persists and continues. The stillness in this moment is actually the sum of all the changes accumulated over time, hence making this moment timeless.
What we think we are seeing or depicting is merely what we are perceiving. It is only the consequence of our senses taking in stimulants from the external environments as they are with the dimensional depths and temporal traces working in an orderly fashion in the natural scenery and objects we see and touch, with the past, future, and present represented simultaneously in the natural scenery and objects. Through my artistic creation, I attempt to explore who can precisely depict a scene or an object in its nascent or most glorious moment. The life and death, ups and downs in life are supplementary to each other. Before we complete our pondering about the spring, we seem to be able to hear the sounds of leaves falling onto the ground already. With such understanding about nature and life, I am able to free myself from what meets the eye and detect what has been hidden along the path of art I have been traveling.
However, the path is often dotted with swaying light and shadow, covered with fallen leaves, and filled with sounds difficult to distinguish if they come from within or without the surrounding forest. Therefore, even though I am at ease with the scenery I have internalized, I cannot help but wonder what to do in my depiction of the scenery through artistic creation. Should I extract one instant of the scenery out of its transition over time? Whether the scenery is in its bleakest or the liveliest moment in that extracted instant, should I focus more on details or on the whole picture of the scenery for each single detail of the scenery is representative of the scenery itself while the whole picture of the scenery is composed of each single detail. These thoughts and questions can be so distracting and disorienting that I often find it difficult to put my first brush.
However, nature operates in its own way and in its own rhythm without showing favor to any particular being. It is impossible for one to fully fathom the way of nature. However, by embracing and appreciating the rhythm of changes among everything in nature, I find myself at ease with nature, which not only organically extends the scope of subthemes for my artistic creation but also offers me an inexhaustible source of interconnected inspirations.
Tsai Shih-mei in Chen Shih Hsuan Painting Stuido, 2021