Liú Yung-jen: Cruising Alone in Painting

Taipei City, Taiwan, November 20, 2022 --( Powen Gallery is pleased to present "Liú Yung-jen: Cruising Alone in Painting?," a solo exhibition featuring the artist Liú Yung-jen's recent paintings. The show runs from November 19 to December 17.

The work of Liú Yung-jen often arouses passionate debate between the figurative and the abstract. But this contention is ensued from a misunderstanding of abstraction and figuration as opposites rather than complementary, and a failure to understand the complex relationship between painting and the world it seeks to represent. The concept of "abstraction" emerged in the German-speaking world at the beginning of the 20th century. Its aim was not to divide the world from its re-presentation but to try to explicate the mental processes by which the artist perceives and portrays the world. Theodor Lipps, a psychologist and philosopher, coined the term "Einfühlung (Empathy)" which he defined as "the objectification of self-enjoyment," that is, "feeling oneself into the Other." This Other is the artist's work. A work that, through meditation and in-depth scrutiny, and by way of the arrangement of shape, colour and line, attains the unification of form, hence the unification of the artist's self. He declares that art is a re-presentation instead of an imitation and that artistic representation is split into the re-presentation of the "external world" and the "inner world." The latter is a self-expression of the spiritual life, where lines and shapes can express pleasure, agony, melancholy and so on through the action of inner thought.

But Liú does not paint in monochrome. He always opens up gaps at the edges or in the centre of his paintings and embeds distinctive forms, such as the series of works developed in the 2010s from the lotus or haystack and evolved in 2021 where the rectangle is formed by the interlacing of half-orange and half-yellow triangles emerged from the black. The form resembles a living organism that changes constantly and recurs in different paintings. Its size and composition, its totality and fragmentation, suggest shifts in perspective. Be it drawing closer or further away, it parallels the perfectionistic cinematography, repeatedly capturing the same scene that fascinates the painter. The tiny, subtle and hazy star-like forms that drift across each painting, seemingly restrained and unobtrusive, but escaping the flat monotony and ornamentation of the tract of colour, open up spatial layers in the painter's consciousness. The reality beneath this simple appearance is all the more intriguing for its simplicity, and for the fact that in addition to the intrinsic and external worlds the artist attempts to re-present, there are layers of meticulous underpainting, an inevitable expression of mediums (various paints, solvents, brushes, canvas, paper, lead, beeswax, etc.), and brush strokes that embraces the interplay between homogeneity and diversity. The painting seems to respond to the action of the painter with the reality of its mediums and the operation of the form itself.
Powen Gallery
Lesley Yang