Friday 9 February 2024

Japan- “Cut Pieces,” a solo exhibition of works by Fuyuhiko Takata

Evocative of myths, legends, fairy tales, and other fantasy worlds, Takata creates vibrantly rich narratives through his self-produced cinematic pieces. Deceptively simple and often profoundly humorous, he meticulously crafts each vignette, often transforming his tiny apartment into elaborate homemade film sets while sculpting his own intricate and colorful props, which are themselves works of art. Directing, filming, narrating, and even acting in his videos, he is a visual storyteller whose elaborate visions playfully interrogate social questions around power, nation, gender, and sexuality. Resonating with subtle and often poetic critique, these works are theatrical, poignant glimpses into alternate universes that challenge our understandings of contemporary society in Japan and worldwide.

 “Cut Pieces” for Art Basel Hong Kong 2024, is an installation and video exhibition that highlights two of Takata’s most recent companion works, The Butterfly Dream (2022) and a latest video titled Cut Suits (2023). The first is a piece in which the artist poetically alludes to “Dream of the Butterfly,” an episode from the Chinese classic Zhuangzi, in which the protagonist dreams he has metamorphosed into a butterfly. Nodding to the landmark work of Yoko Ono, Takata conjures up a fantastical scene in which a hybrid butterfly-scissors chimera flaps its wings as it slices away the clothing of a sleeping young man, raising profound philosophical questions around not only the dialectical relationship of power to pleasure but also the rigid inhibitions surrounding masculinity itself. Cut Suits, meanwhile, is a sequel that further develops this deconstruction by literally excising the superficial trappings of institutionalized male power. In this work, six men clad in business attire delight in snipping away with scissors at each other’s suits, shirts, and ties, while cheerful music plays enchantingly in the background. This nonviolent and even whimsical ritual hints at liberatory themes of shedding, hatching, and unleashing that so prominently recur throughout Takata’s opus. As a monument to the messiness and difficulty entailed in unraveling the patriarchy, these scrapped and tattered garments sheared from the bodies of the film’s characters will be heaped in front of the screen, a gravesite of molted manhood. Nearby this pile of detritus, the booth will also feature the butterfly scissors sculpture that appears in the first film

Fuyuhiko Takata, Cut Suits, 2023, installation view ©︎Fuyuhiko Takata, courtesy of the artist and WAITINGROOM

Referencing both Duchamp’s famous “Cemetery of Uniforms and Liveries” motif, which represents the symbolization and stereotyping of masculinity and femininity, Takata also alludes to the practice of minimalist sculptor Robert Morris, who littered his exhibition sites with shredded fabric. The artist thus brings Western art into conversation with his identity as a Japanese contemporary artist by fetishizing the figure of the “salaryman,” the icon of corporate masculinity in Japan, so often imagined packed into rush-hour trains like sushi. Teasingly cutting away at the threads that shackle these souls to destinies of heteronormativity and capitalist machismo, he humanizes them and rescues their innocent joy enshrouded just beneath the surface

WAITINGROOM Discoveries Sector, Booth 1C43 Solo Presentation of Fuyuhiko Takata (高田冬彦) Show Title: Cut Pieces WAITINGROOM is pleased to present

 “Cut Pieces,” a solo exhibition of works by Fuyuhiko Takata(高田冬彦), a Tokyo-based artist born in 1987 in Hiroshima, Japan, in the Discoveries Sector (Booth 1C43) at Art Basel Hong Kong 2024.


Chen Ting-Shih March 21 - 25, 2024 Art Basel Hong Kong Insights 3D30

 Printmaking Leader Integrating Eastern and Western

In Chen Ting-Shih's prints, we can observe numerous influences from Chinese painting. The extensive use of black immediately brings to black ink, and the juxtaposition of black with other visible colors like white, yellow, red, and blue corresponds to traditional Chinese colors that represent directions. Through the titles of the works that connect with time and the universe, the images of the sun and moon in the works can be constructed into abstract landscapes representing day and night. This transformation is also present in Chen's totem prints, where the totems are closely related to calligraphy and written characters. The typical landscape patterns seen in traditional Chinese scroll paintings become lines, neither resembling characters nor rocks and flowing water. This represents Chen's unique artistic interpretation of Chinese art.

陳庭詩 Chen Ting-Shih, 意志 1 Will 1, 1973, 甘蔗板版畫 cane fibre board relief print on paper, 62 x 62 cm, edition 1 of 25, courtesy of Each Modern

Chen's most well-known prints are, in fact, a convergence of various regions and eras. Printmaking entered China from Europe in the 1930s, sparked by the advocacy of the renowned writer Lu Xun, which led to the initiation of the "woodcut movement." As a medium entirely distinct from traditional Chinese painting and oil painting, printmaking once symbolized a departure from tradition and, for a significant period thereafter, was utilized as a tool for political propaganda due to its reproducibility. This characteristic resonates with Chen's early involvement in the publishing industry.

Since the 17th century, Taiwan has been cultivating sugarcane, and this industry has experienced fluctuations throughout different periods. In the heyday of the sugar industry in Taiwan during the 1950s and 1960s, the residual cane fiber boards after sugar production became the material for Chen's woodcut prints. Unlike other professional printing materials, the use of such inexpensive and readily available material reflects Chen's daily environment and background. It serves as both a microcosm of a specific era and an experimental feature of working with materials with minimal constraints.

Amidst the trend of pursuing modernization and the integration of Eastern and Western elements at that time, Chen did not simply use oil colors to depict an ink wash appearance. Instead, he uniquely employed printmaking techniques. These prints may lean more towards the practices of Western hard-edge art, with perfect separations between color blocks. However, in Chen's printing, this perfection in separation is an acceptance of differences, reflecting the spiritual refinement that the artist cultivated from his life experiences.

Pioneer of Asian Ready-Made Sculpture

 In the early 20th century, Pablo Picasso and Marcel Duchamp successively used ready-made objects as creative materials. As modern art flowed into Asia, Asian artists began to explore the possibilities of ready-made objects, with the most notable being the Japanese Mono-ha movement of the 1960s. However, during the same period, Chen Ting-Shih, who had already moved to Taiwan, also delved into the creation of ready-made sculptures Inspired by Picasso's artwork "Bull's Head" (1942), Chen embarked on an exploration of ready-made objects. As a former significant maritime hub, Taiwan's maritime history dates back to the Ming and Zheng periods. After experiencing Japanese rule and modernization in the 1950s, the rise of the shipbreaking industry was facilitated by extensive manufacturing and the sinking of warships, producing a surplus of shipwrecks in Taiwan. Similar to the cane fiber boards of the sugar industry, these materials, rich in symbolic representations of their time, became a source of inspiration for Chen's artistic creations.

Chen's iron sculpture creations reached their peak in the 1980s after he relocated to Taichung. Commuting between Taichung and the shipbreaking industrial area in Kaohsiung, he collected scrap iron and industrial waste, then welded and assembled them in his studio. The rough iron pieces, covered in reddish-brown rust stains, might seem solid and heavy, but in his compositions, they appear light and graceful. Gears, iron chains, structures, egg cake molds, and unidentifiable objects – they respond to the circles and lines in his prints and serve as the artist's expression of the sun, moon, and stars. These seemingly cosmic symbols and relics may also reveal the aspirations of humanity toward space exploration during that time.

In the realm of Asian art, which values craftsmanship and refined aesthetics, Chen's departure from intricate techniques in his ready-made iron sculptures can be considered pioneering for his time. He stands as one of the earliest Chinese artists in the realm of ready-made art, setting him apart from other renowned Asian artists in this genre. While Mono[1]ha emphasizes the visual representation of raw materials and Nam June Paik's ready-made art centers on conceptual expression, Chen's iron sculptures possess a more organic quality. Each component appears to grow seemingly haphazardly, yet carries a strong geometric consciousness, conveying the pure and tranquil essence found in his prints. Most notably, Chen's iron sculptures retain traces of human activities and historical heritage specific to a certain time and space.

Experiment with Acrylic on Paper

During the dominance of abstract art by the United States during the Cold War, many Taiwanese artists ventured abroad, marking a new chapter in Chinese art. As early as 1959, Chen Ting-Shih was selected to participate in the São Paulo Biennial and continued to exhibit there for several years. His international engagements also included important print biennials and ink-themed exhibitions in the United States, Japan, Italy, the United Kingdom, South Korea, and other countries. He emerged as one of the most representative Chinese artists of that era on the global stage. In 1976, Chen was invited to reside in the United States for a year. Apart from exhibiting locally, he absorbed the diversity of Western abstract painting. Upon his return to Taiwan, Chen began creating acrylic on paper that incorporates Western pigments into traditional ink art. However, his color ink works remained intertwined with printmaking, with similar color blocks and recurring circles consistently showcasing the artist's consistency. It is a representation of the cyclical nature of all things in the passage of time, and a reflection on the potential expressions within Chinese ink art. From printmaking to color ink and iron sculpture, Chen continued to stimulate himself through various artistic mediums, each evoking different chemical reactions within his creative process.

The Artist in the Era of Great Changes Chen Ting-Shih (1913-2002), witnessed significant transformations in Chinese modern history during the first half of his life. Born in 1913 in Changle, Fuzhou, Chen experienced a childhood marked by deafness due to an accident. He graduated from the Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts (now Nanjing University of the Arts). During the Sino-Japanese War, he used cartoons as a means of artistic expression. In 1945, Chen moved to Taiwan, where he continued his involvement in the publishing industry through cartoons. In 1947, he became a witness to the turbulent times in Taiwan and maintained himself as a quiet and contemplative existence over the following decade. In the late 1950s, as the Ton Fan Group and the Fifth Moon Group that Chen joined later sought to subvert traditional ink painting, Chen, who focused on woodblock prints, collaborated with artists like Qin Song, Li XiQi, and Yang YingFeng to establish the Chinese Modern Printmaking Group. They brought a more modernistic approach to printmaking from Taiwan to the international stage, participating in events such as the São Paulo Biennial and various.

influential printmaking biennials worldwide. By the late 1960s, Chen ventured into sculpture by using found materials. One of his most well-known endeavors was visiting the shipbreaking industrial zone in Kaohsiung, where he collected discarded ship parts to use as materials for his sculptures. This marked a significant shift in his artistic practice, showcasing his ability to adapt and innovate across different mediums and materials.

The social upheavals that Chen experienced infused his works with a sense of effortless grandeur: the restrained and profound linocuts with minimal abstract color blocks eloquently speak of the harmony between all things and the passage of time; the totem prints emphasize the importance of Eastern lines while detaching from the narrative text of the symbols; the rough ready-made sculptures, a pioneering effort in Asia at the time, naturally and effortlessly reconfigured their appearances.

In 2002, Chen passed away in Taichung, leaving behind a rich number of prints and sculptures. Today, there is a growing interest and continued research into Chen's works. In an era dominated by representational art reflecting contemporary issues, Chen's creations, interpreting the perception of the universe through abstraction and Eastern impressions, stand out as a rare and pure expression that is almost vanishing in the contemporary art scene. This underscores the significant spiritual value of his works in the present day.

Chen's works are collected by numerous prominent private collectors in Taiwan and are also part of the collections of major institutions such as the Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, and Citibank Taiwan. Internationally, institutions that collect Chen's works span a wide range, including the Rockefeller Foundation, Cincinnati Art Museum, ABN AMRO Hong Kong, Chase Bank Hong Kong, IBM Corporation, and various other art and non-art institutions. In the international auction market, major auction houses have successfully sold works by Chen, with Sotheby's several dedicated auctions. His auction record reached its peak in terms of total sales and prices in the year of 2020.

Each Modern is pleased to present a solo booth by Chinese artist Chen Ting-Shih at the "Insights" sector of 2024 Art Basel Hong Kong.

Chen’s art traverses the realms of poetic contemplation and found materials, pioneering a distinct Eastern expressiveness through printmaking, iron sculptures, and color ink paintings.