Art Scope: Folded Sides of Our Visual Pathways

2023.12.30 - 2024.04.07 KMFA Galleries 201-203
A Crawling Man (detail) /Jin-hua Shi (1964-)/2018-2019/Oil and tube on canvas/23x128x11 cm/Private collection @Jin-hua Shi

Supervisor: Bureau of Cultural Affairs, Kaohsiung City Government
Organizer: Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts 
AI Interaction Design: Art Power
Appointed Transportation: Crown Van Lines
Appointed Deformaldehyde Coating Sponsor: HOPAX 
Curatorial & Executive: Nita Lo
Exhibition Display & Graphic Design: Folder (Esther Zheng & Mei-rong Song)

Exhibition Dates: 30th December, 2023 – 7th April, 2024
Exhibition Venue: Galleries 201-203, Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts


Participating Artists
1.Imagination as Reality
Imin Mavaliw, Shui-tsai Chen, Jin-hua Shi, I-chun Chen, He-hsien Zhong, and I-shu Chen
2.Immersive Imagination with Whole Body and Soul
Yih-hong Lee, Tien-yu Hung, and Hsien-yiu Tsai
3.Attraction from the Others Line of Sight
Hsin-yueh Lin, Tsung-sheng Lin, Shun-chu Chen, Lan-chin Li, and Cheng-chang Wu
4.Landscape of Things
Sheng-chien Hsiao, Tanes Naipanich, and Jui-chung Yao
5.Power of Obsessions
Kao-sing Liu and Jin-hua Shi
6.Revealed Hiding and Hidden Revealing
Ching-hui Chou, Chia-hung Hsu, Hsien-hsiang Peng, and Ting-jin Chen


Introduction Video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7F2lKMszV8


Exhibition Brochure
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1do_fhEKL3R9H2lSoVz0iEh5Cb9MrZov6/view

About the Exhibition                       

Art Scope: Folded Sides of Our Visual Pathways

Curator of the exhibition: Nita LO  (nita5550331@gmail.com)
 
The term, “toujing hsian” (meaning “perspective line”), in the Chinese title of this exhibition is a technical term in traditional Chinese garden landscaping. It is an imaginary line of view created by the designer through the artificial deployment of mountain rocks, waters, and trees to simulate natural landscape. Therefore, even when there are obstacles blocking the front view, this imaginary line of view can guide the eyes of garden scenery viewers past the obstacles from different view angles to enjoy the natural landscape as if a fragment of natural landscape is folded into the garden. This approach can inspire viewers’ imagination and bring them pleasant surprises with beautiful scenery in the least expected corners.
 
Actually, the concept behind such an ingenious approach can also be found in the early history of art and literature. Creation, whether artistic or literary, has never been and will never be about mere imitation of nature or indulgence in “beauty” but more about conveying messages to viewers beyond what meets the eye. However, most people do not get the messages, let alone understand the intention of the artists/writers in “guiding” viewers to the messages. Examples can be found in poems such as the following one:
 
“… Protruding forcibly through a thick crust of soil are a myriad of hill rocks of peculiar shapes. Some slated downwards and stacked upon each other look like a herd of cattle and horses drinking from the stream. Others with their rugged edges pointing upward bear a resemblance of brown bears climbing to the mountain top.”
 
This passage is from the prose, “The Low Hill West of Kumu Pond”, in Eight Records of Excursions in Yongzhou written by Liu Zhongyuan back in the Tang Dynasty. This passage conveys Liu’s imaginative association of the hill rocks “protruding forcibly through a heavy crust of soil” and “pointing upward” respectively with “cattle and horses drinking from the stream” and “brown bears climbing to the mountain top”. His imagination gives passionate “dynamism” to the static image of hill rocks. According to the interpretation of literary reviewers, the rocks obscured by the soil and rampant weeds in the prose actually symbolize Liu’s unwavering perseverance in his beliefs as a literary man and official even though he was not valued by the emperor and relegated to a lesser position in an impoverished and remote prefecture. Therefore, he bought the small hill and worked with his friends to reveal these peculiar-shaped rocks by cleaning up the overgrowth. “We took turns using the tools to dig out weeds, chop down unwanted trees, and then set them on fire.” According to some literary reviews, these actions of cleaning up symbolize Liu’s venting his anger against those eunuchs who conspired together and coaxed the emperor into demoting him and other literati officials. Getting rid of the overgrowth is a symbolic gesture of eliminating those eunuchs.
 
After cleaning up the hill, Liu found his physical and mental peacefulness. “We put a mat here and lie down on it. Our eyes are greeted by a much clearer and brighter view, our ears soothed by the crisp sounds of a trickling stream, our souls elevated by a sense of carefree openness, and our hearts purified by a sense of profound tranquility.[1]
 
This travel prose is rich in Liu’s emotional twists and turns which he projected through his “monologue” about what he saw in natural landscape. There are many other literary works, both ancient and modern, Eastern and Western, in which the authors also projected their emotions through what they saw. Compared with these literary works, works of contemporary art are apparently even more intricate and have more room for “abstract” interpretation through a process of complicated dialectics and references. In addition, contemporary art also allows for more diverse approaches of artistic creation and compresses layers upon layers of messages into one single work.
 
It is probably because of this characteristic that contemporary art is more difficult for the public to directly decipher and understand. To appreciate and understand a work of contemporary art, it requires viewers to use their curiosity and imagination to “remove layers upon layers of mystery” in the work like a detective until they discover what is hidden within. This exhibition is intended to explore how artists put together all the layers of mystery around their intended messages in their works as if they create a completely new world by “overlapping” and “folding” different fragments of this world into one.
 
This exhibition presents nearly 100 works by 22 artists. Some of the works are from KMFA’s own collection, some are borrowed, and others are commissioned works especially for this exhibition. Each of the works is an “art scope”, through which the artist guides the eyes of viewers to the “background scenery” such as the views of magnificent natural landscape with lively floral and fauna, to the “middle-ground scenery” of topics such as historical development, cityscape transitions, ethic (national) identification, and social conflicts, and to the “foreground scenery” of one’s own inner conflicts, nightmares, obsessions, and desires, and then to the “virtual reality” where there is everything but also nothing.
 
With the “art scope” constructed by each artist using brushstrokes, lines, colors, videos, sounds, blank space, and/or ready-mades, we can see past the “obstacles to our eyes and hearts” and get “what is not painted or what is not said”.
 
In museums, “A complete exhibit is just a ‘cultural object’ while ‘stories’ only lie in the missing or repaired parts of an incomplete exhibit.” In each work of art, we see a world as we see in a grain of sand and a heaven as in a wildflower. With all the works in this exhibition, viewers are presented with a world composed of many different fragments of the real world folded together. In this world of “expanded reality”, viewers have to let go of the pseudo sense of security brought by digital technology and just use their eyes to look for untold stories through the “art scope”! (translated by Scott Hsieh)
 
[1] References from “Ancient Chinese Literature Online”: https://www.arteducation.com.tw/shiwenv_cb3b70897b53.html

The Wild (Adaptation)/Shui-tsai Chen (1946-)/1990/Mixed media on canvas/100×200 cm/Collection of KMFA (Donated by the artist)