Chu The-I experiments with different techniques— splattering, scraping, smearing, wiping, letting run, and sanding. The resulting patches and folds of color—and the undulating, textured surface of his works—form a certain rhythmic, cadenced beauty. The repetition, blending, and overlapping within each work create tension and a rich, saturated visual field—a sort of dimensional mediation.
“Artistic Order Within and Without—The Abstractness of Chu Teh-I”
From September 23, 2017, to October 29, 2017, Chu Teh-I, the influential artist, educator, and art museum director who is always actively promoting Taiwanese contemporary art, will host a solo exhibition entitled A Space Between Dimensions. The exhibition will be held at Double Square Gallery in Taipei with internationally acclaimed curator and art critic Feng Boyi presiding as curator. The pieces on exhibit at Double Square will be Chu’s newest works from the past two years that feature the striking color palette for which he has become universally known. These pieces fuse the emotional and the rational, forming an intense contrast between feeling and placidity.
Since his university days studying under Taiwanese master Li Zhong-Sheng, Chu has spent more than forty years engrossed in abstract painting, continuously and freely challenging his inner self in a manner reminiscent of a willful child. His creations demonstrate a strong command of color and present an aesthetic that celebrates conflict between contrasting materials. Ever original, Chu boldly experiments with color and form in ways that break with the past. Chu’s extensive research into color gives way to the blending and overlapping of complementary and analogous colors present in his paintings. Colors that seem to flow freely across the linen appear alongside carefully measured geometric blocks of color, creating an unexpected yet steady rhythm. Chu’s art reflects his internal harmonization of Eastern and Western cultures. His fusing of flat, abstract geometric shapes and willful splatters with the technique of shading used in Chinese ink wash painting reveal Chu’s complete command of color.
The artist applies multiple layers of paint and latex, playing with stacking and subtracting, to create flat planes in which positive and negative space intersect and overlap. This lends not only energy to the visual space but also ambiguity and disorder to the viewer’s perception. Complicated and elaborate layers are juxtaposed on two-dimensional canvases, yet a clever visual balance is achieved. At the same time, Chu explores the multidimensionality of space and his works achieve visual illusions which defy common sense. By leaving portions of the canvas unpainted and sanding others, the different elements of the paintings—from portions of coarse linen left unpainted to richly textured brushstrokes—take on a structure in which these contrasting elements enhance one another and transcend the boundaries of color and form.
Chu Teh-I was born in Jeongeup, South Korea, in 1952 and later came to Taiwan for university studies. Upon graduation from the Department of Fine Arts at National Taiwan Normal University in 1976, Chu traveled to France and decided to further his studies. In 1983 and 1984, he was awarded master’s degrees in artistic design and plastic arts from the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs and the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, respectively. In 1985, he returned to Taiwan to lead the development of Taiwanese contemporary art. He devoted himself to university-level art education in Taiwan as well as promotion of contemporary art and international artistic exchange. Currently, he serves as the director of the Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts at Taipei National University of the Arts; board member of the Li Zhong-Sheng Foundation; and member of the advisory, collection, and evaluation committees at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts and the Taipei Fine Arts Museum. He also serves on the judging committees for artistic awards granted by the Ministry of Culture, the National Culture and Arts Foundation, and other organizations. Furthermore, he is an active member of task forces set up for public art installation projects. In the past, he has served as a visiting professor and/or scholar at different academic institutions throughout Australia, France, South Korea, Japan, and the United Kingdom. His works have been exhibited often in solo and group exhibitions all over the world and collected by the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Australia’s White Rabbit Gallery, the Seoul Museum of Art, Gwangju Museum of Art, and private collectors.
Feng Boyi is an independent curator and art critic currently living and working in Beijing. Since the late 1980s, he has worked in the planning, critique, and editing of contemporary Chinese art exhibitions. Feng emphasizes the experimentation and criticality of contemporary art and is very interested in marginal, avant-garde artistic communities as well as the survival and artistic creation of the younger generation. He has written countless essays and art criticism articles. Important exhibitions that he has curated include: Trace of Existence: A Private Showing of China Contemporary Art ‘98 (Beijing), Fuck Off (Shanghai), Fuck Off 2 (Groninger Museum, the Netherlands), Reinterpretation—the First Guangzhou Triennial (Guangdong Museum of Art, China), Left Hand and Right Hand: A Sino-German Exhibition of Contemporary Art (798 Art District, Beijing), A Vista of Perspectives: the Sixth Shenzhen Contemporary Sculpture Exhibition (Shenzhen OCT Contemporary Art Terminal, China), the Fifth Cross-Strait Four-Regions Artistic Exchange Project (Hexiangning Museum, China; Taipei Fine Arts Museum; Hong Kong Arts Center; Macau Museum of Art), the First CAFAM Future Exhibition—Sub-Phenomena: Report on the State of Chinese Young Art (Beijing CAFA Art Museum), A New Dynasty—Created in China (ARoS Aarhus Art Museum, Denmark), Utopias and Heterotopias: The First Wuzhen International Contemporary Art Museum (Wuzhen, China). Feng is one of China’s most dynamic independent curators and critics today.