Showing posts with label modern_art. Show all posts
Showing posts with label modern_art. Show all posts

Monday, October 15, 2018

Go see "Nude" in Kaohsiung - and Taiwan, promote your events better!

Go see Nude!

Last weekend, I had the good fortune to go to Kaohsiung for a few days to take part in a tourism-related conference. That part was interesting, but not something I feel the need to blog about.

Being down there, however, gave me the chance to see one of my oldest and closest friends in Taiwan. Helping to run the family business mean she doesn't have a lot of time to come to Taipei, so we often see each other when I'm able to head down south. For those of you who think I'm a public transit snob who won't grace an old-school Taiwanese scooter with her precious princess bum, I actually had a blast riding around Kaohsiung county (technically 'city' but that was a stupid change and I won't dignify it) and downtown on the back of her scooter. I just won't drive one myself, because I value my life.


Anyway, we decided to check out the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Art, which is currently hosting "Nude", an exhibit of works on loan from the Tate Modern in London.

The theme of the exhibit is nudity in modern art, and it discusses (with well-planned wall panels in English and Chinese) the evolution of nudity in art through the late 19th century to the modern era. It includes some stunning - and some head-scratching - cutting-edge modern work along side classics by Matisse, Rodin, Renoir and Picasso.

To be frank, it was just an amazing exhibit. It was fine art of a high calibre which is a real treat in Taiwan, with a smattering of well-known masters but not necessarily focusing only on the big names. It featured Rodin's Kiss, which is one of the great works of Western sculpture. The evening we went, a concert was being planned around it featuring modern works of classical music.

Photographs were not allowed, so you'll have to make do with a shot of the brochure and some postcards I purchased.

A Matisse and a Nevinson

The exhibit runs through October 28 and costs NT$280 (with concessions including a student discount), so you still have time. Go see it!

I mean, I was just in London. I went to the Tate Modern. I didn't get to see stuff this great there!

Here's what keeps nagging me: I had heard that this was taking place through the local grapevine, though it wasn't promoted in any way that made a huge impact on me. I had forgotten that it was still running, and in fact though I wouldn't get to see it as I was away for most of the summer. My local friend had to remind me that it was still an option.

When I got back to my hotel, I searched a bit to see where news of the exhibit could be found by tourists (plenty if information is available in Chinese, and the exhibit seemed to be locally popular, with the museum staying open until 8:30pm that Friday). A few articles from over the summer mentioned it, including the Focus Taiwan one linked above. After that, nothing.

A visitor searching for events in Kaohsiung in September or October (perhaps even August) would have trouble finding out that this exhibit existed, especially if they were a foreign tourist searching in English. The information is there, but it's hard to find for travelers. About to attend a conference on tourism promotion in Taiwan, this struck me as especially strange.

As a traveler in Kaohsiung - although a domestic one, as Taipei is my home - I was keen to see the exhibit, and yet would likely not have thought to go if not for my friend. And I actually had known about it! Imagine a foreign tourist here who hadn't seen any of the local news items featuring it when it opened. They'd have no idea.

Here's an example of what I mean. If you search for events in Kaohsiung, you might come across this website by the Kaohsiung City Government. It's actually a pretty good website in a variety of languages, which is already exceptional for Taiwan (where websites in English are often so terribly-designed, unclear and devoid of real information that they are essentially unusable and, I have to assume, only exist for decorative purposes or so that someone could give their nominally-English-speaking nephew a website development contract).

But if you actually search for events, say, this weekend, this is what you get:

Screen Shot 2018-10-13 at 2.49.06 PM
Same thing for no keyword, "art", "museum" and "nude"


Put in some keywords (I tried "museum", "art", "nude" and "tate") - still nothing. A tourist using this site would never have found the sublime exhibit I was lucky to see.

It really seems as though events in Taiwan are either heavily publicized but terrible, or great but not promoted well or consistently.

So, hey, Taiwan. You can do better. You have interesting events that travelers will want to know about. Make sure they do!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

My latest for Ketagalan Media: an interview with artist Lin Ching Che

Moving in the Space Between Light and Rain
Lin Ching Che, 2017

(used with permission of the artist for this piece)

I know it seems like I'm writing more for other people than for Lao Ren Cha, but rest assured, that's because I'm balancing writing with grad school, and I only have time for some writing. When my papers are done, you'll see more content here again. I'm not someone who'd start a blog, run it for awhile and then use it only as a vehicle to link my work elsewhere.

With that said, I am super excited about this interview with talented watercolorist Lin Ching Che, who paints beautiful rainy night scenes of Taipei - the soft and the gritty alike. I tell a personal story (which I've touched on before), we learn what Taipei looks like from someone who grew up there and loved it enough to paint it, we talk about neglected alleys, the meaning of the rain, 7-11 and "cha bu duo".

I tried purposefully to weave together ideas concerning light and dark, inner and outer life, smoothness and imperfection, detail and abstractness, being at home and being a foreigner, belonging and loneliness, city and country and beauty and ugliness, all through the back-and-forth of a conversation about painting that focuses on the comparison and contrast of two different personal experiences: one of the local painter, and the other of the foreign viewer. But, I have no idea if any or all of those ideas came through.

In any case, don't miss it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Taipei Graffiti

加油!Graffiti extolling the virtues of both being awesome and reggae music. I didn't know there were Rastafarians (or Rastafarian wannabes) in Taipei.

If you ride the Taipei MRT with any frequency, you're certain to come across backlit billboards on station platforms or mezzanines that have a big "slash" sign through some ugly amateur graffiti and the phrase "Graffiti is bad for the city's image".

I suppose for the ugly kid-with-one-spray-can-and-no-talent-writing-his-name graffiti, I'd agree, but I have to admit, there is some guerrilla street art (as I like to call graffiti) that is done with an artist's precision and knack for size, form and color.

While I'd be fine with doing away with the scrawled signatures in black or white spray paint, it would be a shame to group these vibrant works with run of the mill tags, and an even bigger shame to whitewash them.

I find that well-done graffiti, which many American cities are starting to embrace and even fund (for real graffiti artists) as a form of beautification, doesn't hurt the city's image - it colorizes it. Kaohsiung has started to allow mural-style wall art at Pier 2, and I do think that the Taipei government quietly tolerates the artistic graffiti along the bike trails.

I'd like to see Taipei throw its graying cement and tile arms around the idea of graffiti - we might get some really cool stuff going on, like this building - which was once clearly quite ugly - on Wooster Street in New York:

...and I honestly think that could improve how much of Taipei looks. Sure, we might get some political graffiti as one can find all over Central America:

Bus stop graffiti in Nicaragua urging people to re-elect Sandinista president Daniel Ortega.

...but that might not be the end of the world. It might get the Taiwanese youth more politically engaged, if anything.

I support any kind of artistic talent, whether it's on metal pull-down doors...

...or it's along the walls that separate the riverside bike trails from the rest of the city.

I have noticed that while Central America goes for political messages and the USA is concerned partially with art and partially with tagging and gang politics (something I absolutely do not support - I'm about art, not hate), Taipei graffiti tends to be picture-oriented - sometimes with an almost existential feel like the above, or sometimes with a clearly anime/modern Japanese aesthetics bent, as below:

I'm a fan of the anime-influenced guerrilla street art, in particular - it lends Taipei graffiti its own ineffable quality (I don't think I've ever seen graffiti in Japan, so generally you'd see it here, not there) and brings out the more "yes, we are in Asia, we're not just imitating New York" aspects of the art.

And you know, if someone with one spray can and no talent wants to write something worth reading ("Ming-de wuz here" need not apply) that makes you smile, not cringe, well, I'm all for that, too.


Another thing I'd like to see? More graffiti in Chinese (or Taiwanese) - you see a lot of scrawlings in English, but rarely do you come across big, colorful Chinese characters saying something interesting. Heck, even if they don't say anything interesting, I do think that graffiti'd Chinese would be cool - think about it, a language associated with delicate calligraphy and Confucius bending over a book millenia ago, all associated with erudition and rarefied precision, now used as modern and often illegal street art in a different and fascinating sort of contemporary public calligraphy. The youth of Taiwan, taking over this whole "ancient inheritance of Chinese characters" and using them for their own artistic purposes. I've never thought of Chinese characters as something indie or individualistic, but they could be in this context.

That would blow my mind. That would kill. At the risk of sounding too "naughts", that would pwn. Or own. Or whatever the young'ins are saying these days.

Finally, I'm not sure this counts as "graffiti" per se, but it is a kind of art and it probably was not sanctioned - in my book, it counts, and it's super cool.

Bonus points if you can identify where in Taipei I took this picture:

So as far as I see it, long live Taipei Graffiti! Bring on the bug-eyed anime creatures.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

New Exhibit at MOCA Taipei: Finding India

I strongly recommend that everyone with even the most remote interest in India or in modern art head down to Taipei's Museum of Contemporary Art (Chang'an Road, just south of MRT Zhongshan Station in the old Japanese colonial City Hall building), also called MOCA.

MOCA has rotating full exhibits, so you'll see something different every month or so if you care to visit that often. Admission prices seem to remain at around NT 50 per person, though I swear I heard somewhere that it changed by exhibit. Tickets are provided by exhibit so you get cool different tickets if you visit different ones...which you can do if you go a few times a year to see what's showing, as I do.

The current exhibit is called "Finding India", and it features works of modern art by contemporary Indian artists (not always from India - the bar seems to be set at being ethnically Indian with some cultural connection to India).

The exhibit allows non-flash photography.

The art on display is not necessarily Indian-themed or influenced, though much of it is (huge photographs - the one at the top of this post is a newspaper photograph blown up to the exact dimensions of Picasso's Guernica and decorated - and of Mysore dolls ringed with garlands of world monuments, below...various short films and moving artwork to name a few). Some of it, like "Grow More Food" above has Indian thematic components but is not Indian in and of itself.

Others, like "Dead Smile" below, have no connection to Indian culture but are presented because they are by artists of Indian descent.

Another interesting point is that a huge number of the artists exhibiting as part of the greater exhibit are female: possibly a majority of them, in fact. This is heartening, considering how much the fine art scene is dominated by men (in that way in which women do most of the world's decorating, but men get accolades for 'high art', and women do most of the cooking but men become 'famous chefs'. Grr).

I highly recommend spending the NT 30 on the English-Chinese guide for the exhibit - some of the works (like various interspecies copulating animal pairs, below), are utterly mystifying without a guide prompt. Others, you can muse on yourself.

Do excuse the bad photos - I wasn't prepared for the museum to allow non-flash photography so all I had was my iTouch.